Image from Stocksnap.

It’s the first day of orientation, you’ve just unloaded all your possessions from the family minivan, and you’re ready to start college life. Hungry and exhausted from carrying all those boxes up the stairs (yes, you definitely needed to bring those books, plus the container full of easy mac), you’re ready to meet up with your friend for lunch. Wait, you don’t know anyone. Anyone. Going to lunch alone would be the picture of embarrassment, you might as well just go home.
These are the fears that plague many incoming college freshman (myself included!). Not only are they ridiculous, every year they also stop students from applying to a school that could be perfect for them–simply because kids from their high school don’t normally go there, or none of their friends are applying. So why should you check out these colleges?

It’s alright to want college to be completely different from high school

Wanting different things out of your college experience does not mean you did high school the “wrong” way. It’s completely normal. I get the appeal of having a few familiar faces on the first day, but that happens naturally anyway. Soon you’ll be recognizing that girl from your floor and that guy who always speaks up in your history class around campus. It’s perfectly okay to want to

How many chances do you get to reinvent yourself?

Sure, not knowing anyone is scary, but it’s also a rare opportunity in life. No one knows you’ve never had the courage to try out for a play before, but have always wanted to. No one has preconceptions about you based on who you hang out with, what clubs you are in, and what extracurriculars you do. This is the time to join astronomy club even though you’ve barely seen a telescope in real life. Now is your chance to try things you never have before.

You aren’t obligated to hang out with your high school acquaintances

While it’s comforting to know even one person going in, that comfort can be at the expense of meeting new people. In the first few weeks of school, I guarantee you will not be the only one showing up to an event, lecture, or anything else alone. If you are by yourself, you’re so much more likely to strike up a conversation with the girl next to you, even if it’s something as simple as complimenting her earrings. If you don’t have the safety net of high school friends going in, you’re free to talk to new people everywhere you go.

The random roommate isn’t so bad

In fact, going random with your roommate is the perfect formula for pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. You definitely don’t have to be best friends, but the living situation will force you to interact daily with someone who probably has different hobbies and friends than you do. This opens so many doors of potential friendships, shared interests, or even just tagging along to an “America’s Next Top Model” marathon.

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the author

Mary is a first year college student at Wellesley, originally from Rochester, NY. She is an Assistant News Editor for The Wellesley News, and hopes to major in International Relations-Political Science. In her spare time, she can be found trying to be clever on twitter (@marym19), idolizing Leslie Knope, and eating nutella straight out of the jar.

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