Despite being six times larger than my high school, how much more intense the workload would be, and how much smaller of a fish I would inevitably become, I found my first week of college to be infinitely easier in terms of getting used to than my first week of high school. The other day I found myself comparing my freshman year of high school to my current semester at Villanova – and I realized that other than a few common freshman trends, the two experiences had very little in common.
The reason for this, I believe, stems from the fact that the confidence one exhibits in 8th grade by no means carries over to high school. We all know the big bad middle schoolers quickly get a shock of reality once they begin to roam the halls of high school. Conversely, the level of self-respect and confidence people usually find during their senior year of high school remains with them for the rest of their years. Sure, you might be a little more reserved during orientation week, but you’re at least not afraid to find your own group and speak your mind when asked for an opinion. During freshman year of college, you aren’t afraid to ask for directions, or grab a bite to eat by yourself in between classes – unlike freshman year of high school where your pride is too great and maturity not great enough to even think about either of those things.
Another remarkable difference comes with the eagerness that accompanies heading off to college to pursue academic and social interests you weren’t able to in high school. No one can deny the excitement – and occasional anxiety – that goes along with choosing classes and an eventual major, or that comes with meeting hundreds of other interesting and intelligent people your age. Prior to entering high school, however, it sometimes seems as though you couldn’t be more content with serving as king of the middle school hill – dreading the day when you’re thrown into a school where maybe not everyone knows your name. Prior to high school, we long for safety and security; whereas prior to college, many of us are ready to get out on our own as we long for freedom and diversity.
There are so many more options in college. Of course this has the potential to be a little overwhelming, but on the whole it is something that makes the college experience so much easier to acclimate to than the potentially dull and homogeneous high school environment. There exists a seemingly infinite amount of clubs, activities, and communities to grow into – in addition to over a thousand other freshmen in the exact same situation as you are. In high school, you probably have already been going to school with the same kids for years now. If not, it’s highly likely that you at least have seen their faces before. High school cannot offer the fresh start that college does. Yes, this can be scary – but it’s what you make of it, and you can make so incredibly much. I was personally ready to get out into a new environment with new freedoms and more options to socially and academically better myself. My eagerness and disposition are what made my transition to college easier and simpler than that into high school.
You don’t have the wisdom and practical know-how of a senior – that’s a given. But there isn’t this social hierarchy relating to grade and age that is so incredibly present in high school. You should look at this open environment with excitement and eagerness, as I did. Freshman year of college is much less an awkward adjustment period than it is a brand new era in your life – an era characterized by opportunity and the search for new experiences. There’s no comparison to that awkward first day of high school when you’re looking for someone to eat with, because at college, everyone needs new dining partners.