Campus life doesn't stop with school. As you enter college, it's time to explore and expand your horizons of learning. Get ready for a new beginning.

For some students, it's time to be back at school. For others, it is that interesting transition from school to college, which many look forward to.

With several colleges reopening, particularly the arts and science colleges, hundreds of students have just stepped into a new space, where almost everything about it is different from school.

Adjusting to it and feeling a part of it is something that doesn't happen easily for all students. Students who have “been there, done that” tell us how to make sure it is a seamless transition.

S. Srividya, a marketing professional, remembers her undergraduate days vividly. “In the beginning, I was not at all comfortable. I had none of my friends from school in the same department. Everything seemed new. There was no one who dressed up like me, spoke like me... I felt unwanted.”

It could be more so when classmates who have come from a particular school form a group that seems dominant in class. Being accepted in a popular circle is what every almost new college-goer is worried about.

“Being open to new ideas and people is the key. As individuals in their late teens, students will be able to see that there is no reason to be judgemental and that it is possible to like people who are very different from you in some ways,” says R. Priya, in her final year of college. Some students find an answer in the clubs and group activities that the college may encourage. “I wanted to have fun. I enrolled in every other club possible — theatre, environment, literature... and today, some of my very good friends are those I made in such circles, from other departments,” says Shruti Gopalakrishnan, employed in the IT sector after her engineering degree.

Acceptance happens quite fast, say some. “Every classmate of yours is as new and as eager. College is also a good time to discover new interests and make more friends. I joined the NSS unit and we had so much fun touring villages, organising community projects and campaigning for causes,” says Shruti, adding that “it was a lot of learning, too.” R. Prashant, now in the United States, says he cherishes every memory and experience associated with his stint as student union member in his college in Tiruchi. “You've never felt so responsible before. Being answerable to professors, being treated as equals, being allowed to take decisions — these are the things that really set you free and break the ‘school boy' mould.”

A lot of students often miss their classmates and close friends from school. They tend to remain quiet in class and during breaks, spend the time reminiscing their good old school days.

“But, there is just no point in that,” says Prashant. “It is not like we can't meet them outside college. And today, with networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, it is difficult to miss people even if you want to,” he quips.

The bottomline, in fact, is to have fun, they emphasise. “See, we've been going to school for so many years, wearing uniform, carrying lunch and going for tuitions. College prepares us for the big, bad world, but it can be a lot of fun, despite assignments, semester examinations, and dress codes, in some cases. It is up to students to make the most of it,” Priya sums up.