CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Graduating from high school is a joyous occasion for many students. It means you are finally free from high school and all the things that go with it. However, if you plan on going to college, your school days aren't over yet.
If you graduated high school in 2011 or before and decided to go to college, then you've already started your college years. How you decide to spend them is totally up to you.
If you're like Brooke Petry, a 2011 Valley High School graduate and nursing student at Marshall, you make sure you pass all of your classes before you do anything else.
While you're trying to study, you may get invited to many parties, just as Petry did, but you shouldn't always give in. She said that when people pressure her to go to parties, she tells them that she has a big test to study for or that she just doesn't like to party.
While some people believe that college is just like high school, Petry thinks it is much harder. She also thinks that high school didn't well prepare her for her college years, making her have to work even harder.
"High school didn't teach me time management and to balance homework and social groups on campus," Petry said. "High school doesn't teach you how to study because there is a lot more studying going on [in college].
"If you're a partier, learn to party less and study more," she advised. "If you're shy, learn how to break out of that and make friends."
As you grow older, you have to learn things for yourself, sometimes the hard way. One thing Petry learned in college was that you should never room with your best friend from high school because it could end up ruining your friendship.
"It's better to either room with a stranger or try to get a room by yourself," she said.
However, she added if you are having problems with your roommate -- whether it's someone you already know or not -- and they can't be resolved, you might be able to talk to someone at the school and get a new room or a new roommate.
One of the good things about going to college is that you have more alone time. If you go away to school, like Petry did, living at home isn't an option, so you have even more time to yourself.
"Living away from my family has given me freedom and a sense of independence," she said.
When asked to give tips to incoming college freshmen, Petry said, "Have fun during your freshmen year, but don't have too much fun. College is about meeting new people and being independent, but you're going to college to get an education, so you do need to spend your time studying."
You should always keep in mind during your college years that having fun is good, but becoming successful is even better.