Top Five Tips for a Successful High School to Post-secondary Transition

September 13, 2017

It’s an exciting time for those of you (or those you know) who have just recently graduated from high school and are off to the next stage in your education path: post-secondary! While exciting, it can be somewhat daunting. Bigger class sizes, new instructors and students, as well as more freedom and independence are just a few of the differences you will face. Here are a few tips to help ease your transition.


  1. Go to classes and stay organized. It is very important to stay on top of your schedule. More independence is exciting, but your instructors won’t be tapping you on the shoulder if you aren’t coming to classes or turning in your assignments. You are an adult in an adult education setting. Your instructors expect you to behave accordingly. Don’t fall behind. The stress and anxiety that will likely occur as a result is just not worth it in the long run.
  2. Make new friends and stay connected with old ones. Find students in your classes who are like-minded, and that you can share notes with, chat about your classes with, and study with. As you make new social connections, be sure to keep in touch with your old friends to keep you grounded in your sense of identity amid all the change. It is important to be studious, but to also enjoy life outside of classes. Try and maintain balance.
  3. Connect with your instructors and teaching assistants. Building relationships with your cohort is important, and that includes your instructors. They are there to help you. Get to know who they are. Seek their counsel and ask questions. Do they have research projects you can assist with? For those of you who may pursue post-graduate work (Master’s and Ph. D’s), the relationships you build with your instructors will be vital when applying for post-graduate schooling, as they will be willing to provide you with the necessary academic references. They can even be a reference for you when applying for jobs.
  4. Check in with your academic student advisor. Your advisor is there to assist you with planning your post-secondary career. Talk to them about courses that not only help fulfill your graduation requirements, but that interest you. The more you are interested in your learning, the more successful you will be. Your advisor will help keep you on track and ensure you have taken the required courses to meet your graduation requirements. They may have information about things such as financing, scholarships, and co-operative learning opportunities, and more. They can also help you with accessing other resources within your post-secondary school, including counselling, clubs, events, etc. Be sure to check in with them periodically and ask questions. They are there to help you!
  5. Find opportunities to get involved. The connections you make through post-secondary can be so influential for you during your career. Volunteer for community events or causes that are meaningful to you. Join clubs that not only interest you, but that are in line with the type of work you may be looking for upon graduation. As mentioned above, speak with your instructors about their research. Ask if there is a way you can help them out. Many career opportunities are presented through networking. These opportunities are ways for you to build your network.


Have fun and enjoy yourself—this is a time in your life that is filled with opportunity, growth, and learning. Good luck with your studies!


Michelle Cook, BA, CCDP
Career and Education Counsellor
Job Search Strategist


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