The transition from high school to college can be exciting and scary at the same time. You go from having to ask to go to the bathroom to total freedom in a matter of months. It’s a huge change and nothing you do can completely prepare you for it. The first few weeks of college are not easy and can feel quite overwhelming. It is a lot to take in and the learning curve is steep. After a month into my freshman year of college, I can definitely say that the first few weeks of college have taught me a lot. It is a brand new experience that comes with many surprises and lessons. Here are 5 important things I learned during my first weeks as a college student.
1. This isn’t high school anymore
This lesson is an obvious one, but it is still very important. College is totally different from high school, but I didn’t realize how much of a difference it would be until I arrived. The classes are less comprehensive and studying everything right before midterms will not end well. For me, the most surprising thing about college was the clubs. Getting into clubs is a lot more competitive in college than in high school. All the clubs, besides the social and community service ones, require a formal application. Some even require you to send in a resume and cover letter and come in for an interview.
You’re given much more freedom. You decide when to study and if you will go to lecture. There’s no one there to make sure you wake up on time and if all your work gets done. You are now in charge of yourself.
2. The college experience is different for everyone
On TV and in the movies, freshman year is portrayed as an awesome experience. This view is also reinforced by the exciting stories you hear from other students and alumni. However, they often leave out the awkward phase of just starting college. The transition is very difficult. You don’t know anybody and haven’t found a stable support system.
Acclimating to the college environment can be a slow and long process. For some students, finding their niche will be easy and they’ll enjoy college right away. But for most students, being at college will feel strange. I started college believing that I would love it right away. But when I got there, it didn’t feel that way. I felt out of place and uncomfortable. I felt like I wasn’t having the quintessential college experience and that I should be enjoying it more than I was. I thought there was something wrong with me, but I realized that there is no one singular college experience. Everyone adapts to college differently and has different ways of enjoying themselves.
3. If you’re feeling lost, you’re not alone
During the adjustment period, many questions and doubts about your abilities may arise. Once classes started, I began to doubt myself. I questioned how I even got into university and if I even liked my major. I had many doubts and felt very lost. Everyone around me seemed like they knew exactly what they were doing and they weren’t struggling at all. The classes were fast paced and I felt out of my league. It was only a few weeks into college and I already felt hopeless. It wasn’t until I finally said something to other people did I realize that everyone was feeling the same way. Don’t be afraid to speak up if you’re starting to doubt yourself. Chances are someone is questioning their choices too. You can work together to help each other succeed and find the right path.
4. Leaving your dorm door open is not enough
The social aspect of college can be an important one. It’s a new place filled with new people you don’t know. Everyone is excited to meet each other and become friends. You will meet a lot of people on the first day, but finding lasting friendships will take effort. Keeping your door open is the first step to meeting people, but it doesn’t guarantee social interaction. If you see someone walking past don’t be afraid to say hi and introduce yourself. Being the first person to start a conversation can be nerve-wracking, but someone needs to do it. Be friendly and listen to what others have to say. Step out of your comfort zone and start conversations with random people. You might even form a lasting friendship because of it.
5. Reach out to loved ones
Leaving for college is not only hard for you, but also hard for your friends and family. This is the first time you will be away from your parents for more than a few weeks. They will miss you more than they let on and will be waiting for you to contact them. Though college can get quite busy and exciting, don’t forget to call or skype them when you have time. Your family has been with you through everything and they will also have a difficult time adjusting to your absence.
College is a huge change from high school and adjusting will take some time. It is a brand new experience and there will be ups and downs. You’ll learn a lot in the process and experience great things!