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Next step? College. That’s the pathway for many high school students. Most of us at this age are excited by the change and the challenges it will bring. We’ve watched enough television to form an opinion that it’s an amazing new adventure.

And it is an amazing new adventure, but the picture painted by television and movies can be far from realistic. Many high school students making this transition quickly discover there’s a big difference between real college life and what they saw on the screen. Here are some of the things you may discover as a new college student, and how to deal with them.

No place like home

According to academic resource website MyCollegeGuide, the top roadblock faced by new college students is loneliness or homesickness. For many young men and women, this is the first experience with being away from home. And it’s not just family that’s missed.

Your friends have likely chosen a different college or university, or maybe they’ve decided to pursue a career that doesn’t require a traditional college degree. Karen Posa Amrhein, director of first year experiences and mentoring at California University of Pennsylvania, advises students feeling unsure to remember that “they are not alone in how they feel.”

Seek out support from counseling services on the campus. This is free, and it’s part of what you’re paying for to go to college.

Not enough time

Heads up. Many of your college courses will require much more time and attention than your high school classes ever did. Because college is so expensive, many new students try to pack in as many courses as they can into a year. They soon discover they’re overwhelmed by the course work involved.

The purpose of college is to learn. You’ll need time to think and gain perspective about what your professors are teaching – and that can’t happen if you are solely focused on studying or homework.

Know and respect your limits recommends Owlcation, a website devoted to education. Sure, it’s about money and how much college costs – but it’s important to think about the return on investment. It may be worth trimming down your course schedule and focus on quality instead of quantity.

Bummed out by debt

Your college scholarships or student loans may not take you as far as you think. You may discover shortfalls when you add the cost of housing and food, as well as textbooks and other expenses related to college life. Tuition costs have become so expensive that nearly half of today’s students say the cost has caused them to reconsider completing their college degree.

Federal student loans are far easier to get than they are to repay, and many high school students don’t do enough research on how repayment works or how long it will take to pay off these loans. Avoid this stress by taking time to understand the financial obligation you’ll take on with student loans.

A growing number of high school students are avoiding the life-changing burden of student debt by exploring careers in the trades as a plumber, electrician, or a heating and air conditioning technician. These are well-paying jobs that a two-year public trade school prepares you to undertake – at nearly a third of the cost of a traditional four-year degree at a public college. Learn more about this fast track to a secure career.