For most 17 and 18 year olds, college is the first time in your life that you are away from your family for more than a week. When I moved out of my house and into my first dorm room, I was beyond scared for what was to come.
Is college scary? Yes, college is scary at first, but you will be okay! It only takes a few days before you are able to get to your classes easily and begin making friends. Everyone is in the same exact situation as you and is feeling exactly like you do.
I was nervous that it would take weeks to find people who liked me and wanted to hang out. I was afraid that I would not be able to find my class and that I would end up falling behind. I was scared that college wasn’t for me. It all works out!
Big school versus small school
Going to a big school might seem like it is a lot more scary than going to a small school. There are some aspects of a big school that are scary, but it has its upsides. The biggest fear is the size of the campus and population. Being on a campus with 60,000 undergraduate students and having 300 students in your class can be overwhelming. You will need to spend extra time learning your campus and making sure you can get around quickly. Big schools also have a lot more organizations and events so it can be difficult to figure out where you belong.
The positives of a big school are that you have a much larger population to make friends with and you are not going to be limited in what you do. In the 7,000 undergraduate school that I went to, everyone knew everyone. It was difficult to find new people to interact with and you did not have the opportunity to try a lot of new things because the campus did not offer bigger events and organizations.
Having all of the proper items going into your freshman year is a great way to start it off right! Not having to worry about your last minute item being shipped to the mail room or a bus to take you to the closest store to buy you last minute item is key to avoiding stress.
Making friends is one of the scariest things when it comes to moving into a new place. Most people have had the same friend groups through middle school and high school and have not had to create new relationships with others their age. College is the place where you have to expand your horizons and take the first step in introducing yourself.
Being yourself is the first rule when it comes to making friends in college. You do not need to pretend to be someone that you aren’t to try to get approval from someone who you just met. You want genuine friends who are going to stick by your side for the next 4+ years of your life.
Start in your dorm
The first place that you should start is your roommate, suite-mates, and everyone else living on your floor. You will see these people every single day and it should not be a challenge to talk to them and find out what they like and where they are from. It is a great way to have an initial group of friends that will be able to introduce you to others. Once you learn their name and where they are from you should ask them what they like to do and see if there is anything that you like that they also like. This can be sports, video games, movie preferences, or anything else that can help strike up a conversation. Once you establish a good relationship with these people you will be able to network and meet their friends.
Eat With New People
The cafeteria is a great way to meet new people. Go with your friends from your dorm and sit with their friends or ask someone who is sitting alone if they want to join you. There are a lot of students who do not have the courage to ask if they can sit with you so extending the offer will go a long way. Food is always a great thing to bond over.
Going to the gym, playing on a recreational or club team, joining a club or organization, or participating in on campus events will introduce you to tons of new people who are interested in the same thing as you. It is a perfect way to bond over common ground and then find out more about the people who you are with.
Learning the layout of your campus is a very important thing to do before classes start. If you think that you are going to struggle finding the classrooms you should go to them the day before. Knowing what route you should take for the next day will make your morning much easier.
You should also have all of your assignments done the night before and packed away in your backpack. Forgetting assignments on your desk is never fun and rushing in the morning will not allow you to get the grades that you need.
Use a planner/calendar
Mapping out your week on Sunday can be an awesome way to make sure that you do not miss anything throughout the week. Having a game plan will allow you to be confident in your tasks for the day and you will be less anxious. I did not do this well and it caused me to struggle my freshman year. I would be missing assignments and running last minute to events that I did not write in my phone or planner.
The awesome thing that you will learn in college is that you have a ton of free time compared to high school and post-graduate life. You are taking a few hours of classes every week and then have to do your coursework and possibly work part time. Other than that, you decide what you want to do. You can spend it hanging out with friends, starting a side hustle, or have some time to yourself.
You will figure out when you need to be in the library doing work and when you can close the books and detach from your schoolwork. Finding a balance will help you manage stress and allow you to enjoy college.
How long does it take to get comfortable at school?
Feeling comfortable in a new setting is going to take different amounts of time for each person. If you can adapt quickly and figure out what works for you, you can be comfortable at the end of syllabus week. Others will need a few weeks to adjust.
What resources are there that will help me with stress and managing my time?
Most colleges have older students that will help new students get acclimated in their first semester on campus. There are also professional resources that you can go to, such as your adviser, that will help guide you through your college journey.
How long should I wait before I decide to transfer?
This is on a case by case basis, but you should definitely give it at least two semesters at a college before transferring. If you have to transfer before that make sure you do enough research so you do not end up in the same situation at a new school.