Our reality will change as we know it when next fall arrives. We will have different friends, a different bed to sleep in every night, and might even be in a different state other than Connecticut. To some, this sounds like heaven. To others however, this is a scary thought. It’s hard to imagine a life in college. Sure, we have stories from siblings and friends who are in college, but their experiences are completely different than the ones we will have. Television shows and movies that take place in college exaggerate the experience, leaving us with false pretenses and expectations. In all, college seems intimidating and possibly scary at the moment. Below is a summary of an article I found written to possibly comfort some seniors on their way to college.
8 Things First-Year Students Fear About College
1: Am I Smart Enough?
All we hear about from teachers, peers, our parents, and our siblings is “college is really different–and much harder–than high school”. Comforting, right? As if we haven’t struggled enough with AP classes and tears already, it just gets harder from here! This thought leads many students to question their abilities. College students have observed that in order to survive and be successful you must have three things: time management skills, organizational skills, and a good relationship with your professors. You WILL succeed if you have those three things. Also, some students have suggested making a “semester-long calendar created from syllabi on Day 1 of classes”, learning how to “scan” huge documents and articles that are assigned, and taking early morning classes that interest you. Otherwise, you will “just go back to sleep”.
2. Will My Roommate be Weird?
Finding ways to compromise and respect each other’s space in a small dorm room may be difficult depending on your and your roommate’s personality, tenancies, and habits. Remember that nothing is forever, and if it becomes absolutely unbearable to live with this person, you can always request a switch by talking to an RA. If your roommate and you don’t get along, you can always spend more time making friends outside of your dorm. Most importantly, if a roommate is physically or verbally threatening or abusive, you don’t have to “deal” with that. Talk to an RA or the dean about it. You are also not responsible for waking up or taking care of your roommate in any way. If you end up becoming your roommate’s “mom”, or they start overbearingly taking care of you, you should once again request a new roommate.
3. Where’s my New Best Friend?
Students expect to find their best friend at orientation. Everyone is nervous and freaking out, even the “outgoing students who had a plethora of friend in high school” feel intimidated. No one there knows your back story or anything about you other than the judgments they’ve already made about your appearance. Remember that friends will come in time, and to keep true to yourself. One student observed that if you have a “tool kit” (yes, a tool kit complete with hammers, nails, screw drivers, even duck tape), you will meet tons of people. Also remember why you’re there: to LEARN.
4. Will I be okay without my folks, my dog and my car?
There’s no doubt about it–you’re going to feel a little homesick at some point. Whether its the “first three hours or the first three months” you’re going to miss something about home life. Angela Kinney at Saint Louis University (MO) says “it’s okay to have bad days and miss your family and to want to be home.” It’s natural, it’s normal. Students usually struggle to cope with this, and choose either to “bury themselves in way too many activities” or “hibernate with their books”. Here are things to remember that will help you deal with homesick thoughts:
1. Not every day is going to be packed with fun and parties
2. Stay active, but don’t overdue it. Yoga or Ultimate Frisbee are good ways to stay out of bed and work off stress
3. Go to an RA if you’re feeling homesick, or go to the counseling center sooner rather than later. They are there to help you and have no problem doing so.
5. Where’s the Party?
Parties happen at college all the time. Even though college campuses may ban alcohol, you’ll be able to find it. It’s always around, and it seems like everyone’s doing it. If “partying” isn’t your thing, don’t feel pressured to drink. There are other people like you who find other ways to have fun. If you ever feel like you should go to a party in order to make friends and be social, remember that if things get out of hand and you start to feel uncomfortable, you can leave and go back to your dorm at any time. If you ARE into partying, remember to be responsible. Also, know that “not everyone parties to unconsciousness from Thursday through Sunday”, “Sometimes telling someone you like him/her is facilitated by beer”, and “Amazing people turn into foolish people or worse at alcohol-laden parties”.
6. Peer Pressure for Sex?
Luke Roth at Loyola University (IL) says “No matter whether you like it, you don’t like it, you haven’t had it, you have had it, you had it and don’t do it that much anymore, you had it and now have it like a bunny—get used to it, because it happens, and it happens a lot.” Stay responsible, and only do it if you’re 100% sure you want to (this does not include being 100% sure while you’re intoxicated). Be polite, don’t do it when your roommate is there, and don’t kick them out unless they’re completely okay with it. Figure out in advance exactly what you want and what you will accept in a relationship, and tell the person this. And of course, you don’t have to have sex at all.
7. Where’s the Money?
Every college student is broke. Everyone. You’re not alone, and there are ways to survive with having little to no money. Here are some tips:
1. Buy cheaper books, cheaper meals, and cheaper “fun”
2. Get a job that allows you to study at work and have a flexible schedule
3. Be careful with your credit card if you have one–they have a limit for a reason.
4. Leave your car at home
8. Is it Safe Here?
There will be crime on campus, but you can avoid it, and all campuses go to great lengths to keep their students safe. Security information and phone numbers will be given to you, and lectures will be given telling you how you can be safe at parties and on campus. Date rape is a huge thing to look out for. You should never put your drink down at a party, and you should only drink your own stuff. There should be one sober person in your group of friends that can look out for the rest of you as well. Aside from “date rape” safety, you should be careful to keep your possessions safe by putting passwords on them if they are pieces of technology you care about (laptop, cellphone, etc.) or by putting locks on them that have a combination only you know.
The article by education.com wraps up by stating this:
“despite their fears, college can provide a safety net—within reason—to experiment, make mistakes, learn and move forward intellectually and socially. A Brandeis University (MA) student talked about how during her first semester at college she “made bad choices, hooked up with guys, was messy, drinking too much.” She didn’t much like that person. She decided to change, try new things, and find the person she really wanted to be.”