How to Have a Great Transition to College

Learn from Society of Women Engineers Members on how to have a smooth and successful transition from high school to college.
How To Have A Great Transition To College

For those transitioning from high school to college, we wanted to offer you some final words of advice on how to have a great transition. We hope that you stay a part of our community by joining the Society of Women Engineers section at your college (if you haven’t already!). You can find your nearest section here.

Advice on How to Have a Great Transition From High School to College:


photo of Lauren LouisaireLauren Louisaire

B.S. Mechanical Engineering, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University

Manufacturing Systems Engineer at 3M

Get out of your comfort zone! College is the perfect place to grow and creatively express yourself. Join a club or organization like Toastmasters International that will help you to enhance your presentation and public speaking skills. Also, network! Speak with professors and graduate students about research opportunities in your areas of interests. Do not panic if your interests don’t align perfectly with your major. Trust me, it’s okay. Research is great if you plan to attend graduate school or if you are unsure of where your current studies will lead you.

How To Have A Great Transition To CollegeLisa Woodward P.E.

B.S. Chemical Engineering, Colorado School of Mines

Adjunct Instructor for Chemical and Environmental Engineering at Colorado School of Mines

Happiness and success in college has much less to do with where you go to college than with what you make of it once you are there. Take advantage of what your college offers and remember that SWE can help you with this journey.

How To Have A Great Transition To CollegeAnnie Ding

B.S. Environmental Engineering, Cornell University

Water Resources Engineer at Arcadis

Join clubs and student organizations based on your non-academic interests! Don’t be shy about showing up at meetings. Trust me, existing members love recruiting new members! What do you like doing in your free time? Someone probably made a group for that. You’ll get to meet new friends outside your department and major, AND you’ll get a break from all that studying when you need it! Also, don’t be afraid to go to office hours! You probably didn’t have this kind of one-on-one interaction with your teachers in high school, but it’s some of the most valuable learning time you’ll have for classes you might not be doing so well in. You won’t be infringing on your TA (Teaching Assistant) or professor’s time and space. They are there to help with anything you have questions about. For larger classes, you’ll sometimes be there with a bunch of other students with the exact same questions as you, and learning to overcome obstacles with your fellow classmates is an invaluable learning experience.

How To Have A Great Transition To CollegeMary Zeis

B.S. Chemical Engineering, University of Pittsburgh

R&D Associate Director at Procter & Gamble – Retired

Find a few study buddies! In engineering classes, it is okay to work with others to answer the homework questions and study for exams. Sometimes you’ll be the one who understands the concepts and sometimes your study buddies will be ones who understand. You’ll help each other! And you learn things even better when you have to explain them to someone else. Don’t freak out when you get that first low test score! It’s bound to happen, even if you were a stellar student in high school. I was a straight A student in high school, and then got a 15 (out of 100) on a college Physics test. What a shock! I really didn’t understand the material (obviously!). When this happens to you, don’t think, “I’m not cut out for engineering”. Of course you are! Just buckle down, ask for help from your study buddies, professors, and college tutors, and on the next test you’ll do fine, just like I did. Join SWE at your college and go to the meetings. You’ll meet upperclassmen who have successfully made the transition to college. They can help you be successful, too.


Have college transition questions? Send them to and we’ll have a SWE member answer you.

Best wishes for a great college experience from the SWENext Program Volunteers!

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