I remember my first day on campus. I’d already planned out the next four years of college in my head, and I couldn’t wait to get started. My mom dropped me off at the dorm, helped me unpack a bit and then we went to a little Chinese place for lunch. I remember my fortune cookie read, “You’ll have many great adventures with your newfound independence.” I showed my mom and she started crying.
After lunch we headed back to the dorm where we said good-bye and she headed by home. But that’s how it goes with a first year college student. You’re dropped off and left alone to fend for yourself, just like that. Typically a few fears begin sneaking into your head. So here is a list of the top 5 and how to cope with them.
1.) “What if I fail?” This is a perfectly reasonable fear. It’s been drilled into your head that high school courses are nowhere as difficult as college courses, than of course you’re going to be nervous. Plus, it can be a lot of pressure trying to make sure all that money you’re spending on your education isn’t going to waste. Let’s take a look at the facts though:
– Your university understands that you just came straight from high school. The courses you take your freshman year are designed to get you used to a college schedule and lifestyle.
– You’ve been prepared. If you’ve taken Honors Physics, chances are Physics 101 is not going to be a problem.
– You have options to help. Schools often have free tutoring centers, and almost every class has a few students that create a study group of some kind.
2.) “What if I hate my roommate?” It can incredibly scary to move into a new place knowing nothing about a person that is going to be sleeping a few feet away from you every night, but you’ll get used to it. Most likely, you’ll get along just fine with your roommates minus a few annoying traits (their love of egg salad sandwiches, they listen to weird music). Worst case scenario though, you can always move. It sounds like a huge pain in the ass (and sometimes it is), but it’s not the end of the world. Your situation is always changeable.
3.) “Will I make any friends?” Yes, you will make friends, but it’s understandable to be stressed about it. So go meet new people! Go to dorm functions, like a Thursday Night Game Night or a coffee break with some students in one of your classes. And don’t feel bad if you latch on to someone in the beginning (like your roommate) that doesn’t end up being your best friend in the spring. There are so many people in college it’s actually more difficult not to end up being friends with at least a few people.
4.) “Will I run out of money?” Maybe. The best thing to do is to create a budget before you even get started. How much is food going to cost? Have you already bought your textbooks for the semester or do they still need to be purchased? Maybe your parents will help you out a bit (try to avoid that, you’re a big kid now), and you can always take out student loans (try to avoid that as well, you end up paying them back in the end), so in the end you certainly aren’t going to starve to death. Create a budget, stick to it, and get creative when it comes to saving money (gas is expensive, use the campus shuttle and leave your car at home).
5.) “Is it safe?” It’s perfectly natural to question the safety of your new school. After all, you’re in a new place that is unfamiliar to you. Is the Campus Police really as vigilant as they say they are? Is theft really not a problem or are students just not reporting when their things get stolen? Can I walk to the library at 8:00 at night or will I be mugged? In any case, you’re best option is to take care of yourself the best way you can. Walk in well-lit areas, preferably with a group of people, and carry pepper spray in your purse or pocket. Lock the doors to your dorm room, and make sure your valuables (social security card, extra cash, etc.) are locked in a secure area, like a safe. Be careful in any situation where there’s alcohol present, and have the Campus Security phone number programmed into your phone. You should be fine, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry, right?
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