Over the past several years, I have met hundreds of students entering college for the first time. Sometimes they have shared with me what worries them about making the transition. Some of their worries are big, such as how they will pay for college in this tight economy. But many of their worries are groundless and a waste of their time and energy. Here are some common worries that should be discarded immediately so the freshman psyche has room to enjoy the early days and months of college….
1. Can’t find places
“I am worried that I will not be able to find my classes or that there will not be enough time between classes to get to my next class.”
This very frequent worry can be easily put to rest if the student studies the campus map and even takes a walk around campus to find the buildings and classrooms in advance. Problem solved!
2. Won’t like my roommate
“I am afraid that I won’t like my roommate or (even worse) my new roommate will not like me.”
OK, well, the truth is that most first roommates never become close pals. But you can be civil and willing to compromise on those classic debates about how much noise, when lights get turned off, and such. It is best to assume that your roommate will be mainly someone sharing the space and not have high expectations about lifelong friendship.
3. Don’t know what to major in
“I am embarrassed that I have not declared a major” or “I really feel no commitment to the major I picked last spring when I applied to this college”.
This should not loom up as a worry, because a 17 or 18 year old who is locked in to a major is a rare one. Most freshmen need time to explore some options. Keeping an open mind for a while is a good thing.
4. Afraid of losing high school girlfriend/boyfriend
“What if my girlfriend/boyfriend loses interest in me and gets involved with someone else?”
High school romances rarely survive the transition to college. This is the brutal reality. Even if you were very close to that high school boyfriend/girlfriend right up through senior year, you can pretty much count on being broken up by Thanksgiving. Steel yourself for the inevitable and realize that you both are too young to be committed for life.
5. Signed up for the wrong classes
“I’m just not sure about that (fill in blank: Math, Chemistry, French, etc.) class I signed up for. Maybe I should have taken (fill in blank: English, Anthropology, Economics) first.”
With any luck, your academic advisor steered you toward a reasonable schedule. Remember that to some extent what you take first semester is arbitrary and you will have an opportunity to make any needed changes to your schedule early in the semester.
With those five items scratched off the worry list, there should be ample room for these five essential TO DO’s for entering freshmen:
1. Practice using an alarm clock!
2. Buy all your textbooks (but hang on to the receipts in case you drop a class).
3. Buy an academic year spiral planner and get ready to write all your deadlines and assignments in it faithfully.
4. Talk to your parents early about your budget strategy and parameters; open your checking account.
5. Bring a spirit of adventure with you and prepare to grow!