Everyone is worried about one thing or another before college—and you have the right to be! It’s a completely different place with new people away from your family. This may even be the first time you are really on your own, and for a lot of people, that’s the scariest part. There are common college fears that every collegiette has before she arrives, but we promise—this new adventure really isn’t as terrifying as it seems. Here are a few topics that scared all of us before college and how to overcome them so you can make the most of your college experience from the start.
1. Making new friends
Moving away from your friends and family can be terrifying, but not impossible. Collegiette Keana Bloomfield, a sophomore at Bryn Mawr College, says she was always quiet and worried to meet new people because she had no idea what to expect. “I didn't know whether to stay to myself or venture outside my comfort zone,” she says. “It turns out that doing both helped, because I was able to show people the real me and the friendships that I developed came naturally because I wasn't trying to be someone else.”
Go to the events your school throws for freshmen. Talk to people in the dining hall, classes and parties. Caroline Cunningham, a sophomore at the University of Alabama, says she left her door open the first few days while she was adjusting to her dorm room and people would stop in to introduce themselves. It’s a great way to get to know the people on your hallway! Stay open to new friends and remember that all freshmen are in this together, and everyone will be in the same position as you.
2. Staying in touch with high school friends
Even with all the new friends you will make, there’s that special spot for your high school friends. While you certainly won’t stay in touch with everyone, make sure you know who is important to you. You’ll be busy, but it isn’t impossible to stay friends.
There are Sunday afternoons in college where instead of watching Netflix, you can video chat your friends instead. Send them texts when you get the chance to tell important news so that they stay in the loop, even if they don’t get the chance to reply. Remember, if they care about you as much as you care about them, they’ll make an effort to keep in touch. College isn’t forever! You’ll be back for a whole summer of fun.
If you’re staying in touch with a bunch of friends, like Alexis Juarez, a sophomore at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, make plans far in advance to reunite back home. “It wasn’t easy, but we all made plans ahead of time for when we were going to see each other at certain events at each other’s schools, such as football games or things unique to our campuses.” Also, coming home for homecoming events is a great way to see everyone from high school again.
3. Transitioning into college academics
In high school, you hear about these 20-page papers that college students write and think, “How does someone even have enough to say about a topic for 20 pages?” Or, you hear about classes where the final counts as 100 percent of your grade. It can be a little scary when you haven’t been exposed to classes like this, but there are so many resources at your school to help.
Use the library. It’s a great place to make you study because everyone else is trying to focus as well. There won’t be anyone yelling or music playing, which makes for a better study environment than a dorm room. Get a study group together if you need even more motivation or extra help. Need even more help? A lot of large lecture classes have teaching assistants (TAs) that are open to helping you after class hours. Professors also have office hours you can go to so if there’s anything you’re confused about, your professor can give you further explanation.
Keana overcame her fear of this by talking with her dean. “[My dean said that] the transition from high school to college is already hard enough and if I tried my best no matter what and stopped comparing myself to others, then I would have done all that I can,” she says.
4. Building a schedule
Making your first class schedule can be confusing and terrifying. Your options aren’t as restricted as they are in high school, and there are an overwhelming number of choices to make. Luckily, most of the class registration process is explained at orientation, but here are a few tips to keep in mind.
Consider the requirements that you need to graduate. The general education requirements should be fulfilled, as well as the classes you need for your major. Look at what classes overlap so you can take fewer required courses and more classes that are interesting. “Building your own schedule teaches responsibility and organization skills needed for the future,” says Alexis. You aren’t given an exact list of what you need to take and when; only the certain credits.” It’s mostly up to you to decide what is best fitting for you. If you plan on going out of town on weekends like Alexis, it’s a good idea to plan for no Friday classes and put all of your classes on other days so you can have a three-day weekend.
5. Finding your classes
The campus will be unfamiliar and there are so many buildings that it seems impossible to find every single class, but there are ways to get around this. Use a map of the college and walk through your classes before they start, since you’ll move in about a week before they begin.
Even if you can’t remember exactly where everything is after your walk through, you can take a picture of the college map on your phone to always have it with you!
6. Fitting everything into your dorm
Yes, dorms can be very small, but there is plenty of room to keep everything you need. There are several approaches to fitting everything you need. You can pack lightly with the necessities and save the decorating for later, especially if you plan on joining a sorority because when you get your big sister, you’ll be showered with gifts that mainly include canvases and crafts. You can also be like Marianne Wright, a sophomore at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who got the dimensions of her room and coordinated decorating with her roommate so everything was planned out prior to moving in.
Regardless, there are things you can live without, so think about what you’ll need in school. At the start, only bring summer clothes and a few fall outfits because you can take clothes home and bring back new ones on breaks. This will save a ton of closet space. Bring stuff you think you’ll wear and consider social events, especially common themed parties if you plan on being a part of the “social scene.”
7. Terrible roommates
If you don’t know your roommate prior to college, there’s the chance that you two may not get along. It’s scary to think that you have to live with a girl you barely know. What if she goes to bed at a different time? What if you two don’t get along? What if she brings back a guy one night?
Luckily, there are roommate agreements that are completed within the first week of school to give you and your roommate a chance to talk about your living habits and what you expect out of one another. You agree on a system so no one gets upset. There are also resident assistants on every hall of dorm rooms to help resolve any arguments you two may get into. Many roommates end up getting along and even becoming best friends. Worst-case scenario, you have to switch rooms, which isn’t as bad as it sounds.
With all your worries will come a solution and just remember that you are not alone! Every freshman is going to be in the same position-thrown into an unfamiliar place with all new people. You all are adjusting at the same time, so bond with people over that. College really isn’t that scary when it comes down to it and freshman year.