Around this time of year, many cheerleaders are preparing to say goodbye to their squad, and leave high school (and possibly home) behind as they head off for college. This will probably be the biggest change you've experienced yet. It can be daunting but, with preparation, it can be a lot less scary and a lot more exciting.

We're here to share some insider knowledge on what to expect at college. Think of this as your first assignment. Get your pencils sharpened and start taking notes!

Don't buy into the movie myths
Just as there are cheerleader stereotypes, there are college stereotypes as well, seen frequently in movies and on TV. While some provide a realistic look at college life, most of them don't. All art majors aren't hippies; most dorm rooms don't look like glamorous apartments; not all classes take place in an auditorium with 500 other students.

The most important thing to remember is that every school is different. Large, state schools often have auditorium-style classes; small, private schools typically offer more intimate settings for class. Don't head to college expecting it to be the same as 90210 or Gossip Girl.

Embrace independence but don't take advantage of it
One of the greatest (and potentially hazardous) aspects of college is freedom from your parents' rules. You make all your own decisions! You can eat pizza for dinner every night; never make your bed; or skip class.

This seems awesome at first, but if you take it too far, you could find yourself in trouble. College is all about being an adult; you need to find balance in your new independence. If you're going to eat pizza for dinner, add a side salad or veggies. If you're going to skip class, email your professor ahead of time to let him/her know or ask a classmate for notes. You're an adult now; it's up to you to do your laundry, eat right, and keep up with schoolwork!

Classroom rules
Most likely, your professors will lay out rules that are very different from those you had in high school. Oftentimes, professors aren't focused on attendance records. Instead, grades are entirely based on assignments and class participation. This means that, while it may seem like you can cut class as many times as you like, your grades will still be affected. You can't participate if you're not there and many assignments are based on classroom discussion. Don't fall into the "I don't have to go to class" trap.

In college, there are two general class styles: lecture and discussion (lab is another for science majors). In a lecture, you'll be taking a lot of notes while the professor talks or presents a slideshow. In a discussion class, the emphasis is on the students conversing with one another and developing new ideas. Unlike high school, professors are less concerned with calling on a student who isn't paying attention. It's up to the student to be alert!

College versus high school cheer
Just like class, cheer is a lot different at the college level. Depending on the school, you may not have tryouts until fall, which means no cheer camp. Or, freshman may not even be allowed to tryout! In spring before you graduate, look into your college's cheer schedule. Find out the dates and rules of tryouts and reach out to the coach if you have any questions. Since you're at the college level now, expect different rules and more rigorous practices!

Extra tip:
No matter what your concern, fear, or question, never be afraid to ask. Colleges have a variety of resources specifically for new students to help them. Get to know your school counselor, dorm Resident Assistant, or advisor; they're there for you! Whether you need help finding the cafeteria or choosing the right classes, there is someone available to help. You're not the only person with these questions.

By knowing what to expect, and following our tips and advice, you'll arrive on campus ready to thrive!
Seniors: what are you most excited or nervous for as you prepare for college? College cheerleaders: what are your tips for incoming freshmen?