Going to college is an exciting, yet scary time for a lot of people. You’re living away from home, trying to make new friends, trying to figure out what you want to do for the rest of your life, basically trying to change and determine everything. I know in the over three years I’ve been at college now, I have learned a lot of lessons, and I thought I would share some of them with you!
Put Yourself Out There
Before moving away to college, I was a very introverted and quiet person. My close friends knew me to be a bit more loud and funny, but I would only let a select few people see that side of me. Because I chose to go to a school where only one other friend of mine had decided to go, I knew that I could not rely on my high school friends for social interactions anymore. I had to put myself out there and try to make new friends.
This was so scary for me! I remember one of the first days in my dorm, a huge group of people were going out to lunch, and invited everyone on my floor to join them. I decided to tag along, but I was so out of my element in such a huge group that I basically sat there and said nothing the whole time. Luckily for me, my roommate had some high school friends to introduce to me, so I was able to make friends through her, and through much less overwhelming interactions.
Moral of the story, find what works for you. No one should have to go through such a huge transition in their life alone, and even if you just make one friend during your first days away, it’ll be really helpful.
C’s Get Degrees
We’ve all heard this phrase before, and if you haven’t, start embracing it. When I say “C’s get degrees”, I don’t mean that you should slack off and do the bare minimum in order to pass classes and eventually graduate. I take it more as a way to comfort myself when I know I’m not doing great in a class. A lot of friends I have talked to say they used to obsess over grades in high school, and once they got to college and things got harder, they panicked. This happened to me too, and it’s really tough to deal with. Grades can become such a way to validate yourself that when you mess up a bit, you beat yourself up over it.
I’m here to tell you that grades aren’t everything. And this is coming from the girl who nearly cried when I received the first grade below an A- in my entire life during my sophomore year of high school. It is perfectly normal to flunk a test or screw up on a homework assignment, and while you should take this with a grain of salt, failing a class is not the end of the world. I’m sure at some universities and in some degree programs, these statements are not entirely accurate, but in general grades are not the end-all-be-all in college. I have gotten 13% on an exam, bombed homework assignments, and I failed a class once. Yet here I am, still living, still on track to graduate on time, still hired on for a summer internship, and still holding a high enough GPA to stay in the Honors College at my university. Trust me, you’ll be fine.
Communicate With Your Roommate
My first (and only) year in the dorms was quite the experience. My roommate and I got along just well enough for just long enough that she ended up introducing me to people who are now some of my best friends, and I am super grateful to her for that. A few months into our first semester, however, things got a bit tricky. Without going into too much detail, we started to have some differences, and that wasn’t the issue so much as the absolute lack of any communication.
I am not a confrontational person, so I will usually put up with a lot before I feel like I need to say something. Unfortunately, it seemed that my roommate was also that way. There were things she was doing that bothered me, and I absolutely knew that I was bothering her in some ways as well, yet neither of us would ever sit down and talk about it. This made the rest of the year nearly unbearable, not because I couldn’t stand her, but because I didn’t know what to do about the situation. We let things go on for long enough that sitting down to talk about any of it seemed too little, too late.
Whether you’re assigned a random roommate in a dorm, or living in an apartment with your best friend in the whole world, make sure you have open communication with them. You have to learn how to communicate your concerns in a way that isn’t offensive, and you also have to learn how to take complaints in a way that isn’t personal. Feeling comfortable talking about issues with the person you live with is so incredibly crucial. Trust me.
Take Care of Your Mental Health
Going to college can be super overwhelming. There are so many classes to take, clubs to join, and friends to hang out with that by the time you realize you’re burning out, it can be too late. Taking the time to analyze what is best for you and how much you can handle is really crucial for taking care of yourself and managing stress levels.
I didn’t do this during my first semester. I came from an extremely rigorous program in high school, so I thought that taking 18 credits my first semester would be no problem at all. However, the stress from my workload combined with social stress and some unacknowledged homesickness, and I eventually had to withdraw from a class and take a huge step back to reassess what was going on. I realized that being under constant pressure throughout high school had taken a much bigger toll on me than I had realized, and I was basically burnt out before I even began college.
Being introspective and taking your stress levels into consideration will help enormously when it comes to your success in college. There can sometimes be pressure to overload yourself to try to graduate early, and while this may be the necessary path for you for financial or other reasons, I would not suggest it to anyone who could avoid it. Not only would you be doing your grades a huge disservice, but you’ll end up harming yourself and possibly needing to take even more time to finish school.
Know When to Ask For Help
My last note would be not to hesitate to seek out help. Whether you need a tutor because you’re struggling in a class, or you need to seek counseling for some concerns with your mental health, never be ashamed. Many people struggle with many different things in college, and no one will judge you for getting the help you may need. There were times where I needed help but felt too awkward to ask for it, and I really regret some of those moments. Always do what’s best for you, keep an open mind, and I’m sure you’ll be fine.