College is a whole lot different than you expect. Even if you have had an older sibling or friend go through college recently, they are not the same as you. I write this as the oldest child, who has gone through many experiences in college, and I am here to tell you what to expect. I was lost my freshman year, and nobody was there for me. I had my friends, but they were lost too and we didn’t get much accomplished. You do not want to make this mistake.
The biggest change when going off to college is responsibility. You will never know how much your parents actually do for you until they aren’t around anymore. You aren’t completely on your own, but they will not be there for your daily life, unless you live at home. They are no longer your alarm clock, personal maid, butler, organizer, or anything else. They can no longer force you to do anything. It is up to you to go to class, take care of yourself, do laundry, clean up after yourself, do homework, and manage your schedule. This is something that really shocked me. I went from having everything taken care of to being on my own. Spend the weeks before college learning how to do these things, so you will be ready.
In college, there is so much free time. Here is where your discipline will show. You have plenty of time to do homework, but will you do it? You will be managing school, your social life, possibly athletics, family, and other close relationships. Managing your time wisely is probably the most difficult thing to do, other than learning new material, of course. You will have to make decisions that will impact your academic career and social life. Both are very important, so how will you manage them? Just make good decisions. That is probably the best advice I can give you.
Your academic career changes drastically from high school to college. You go from having school all day, five days a week, including lots of homework, quizzes, test, and teachers who actually care, to college. In college, you have maybe one to three classes each day, each lasting about an hour or so. You only have four or five grades the entire semester, so if you make a mistake, there is no fixing it. Your professors do not even care if you show up for class. They want you to succeed, but most will not go out of their way to make it happen. Academic discipline must be developed early in high school to do well in college. Anyone can do it, but this discipline makes it easier.
Lastly, college is where you really create a new life. High school is over, nobody cares about your past life. Everyone starts off at the same level, knowing nobody, trying to get friends. Everyone puts their lives behind them and gets a clean start. This is where you need to be yourself. Not only that, put yourself out there. Do not be afraid to introduce yourself to new people. Sanity comes from the friends you make. You do not want to sit alone in your dorm all day. You will not make friends by just walking around, but you need to take that extra step.
That is really the best of all the advice I can give you to prepare for college. Do these things, and life will be much easier. College is not only a place of academic learning, but also a place of social learning as well. Be yourself and make something out of it.