It doesn’t matter if you’re a recent high school graduate or an adult who has been out of the classroom for years. Going to college can be an incredibly exciting experience! But just like any other important event in your life, starting college can cause some anxiety, too.
Before you drive yourself nuts wondering “But what if…” you should take a look at these top college concerns and corresponding advice. Realizing that you’re not alone with your college worries should already provide a little bit of comfort!
These days, most colleges and universities go to great lengths to help pair incoming freshman roommates. Many use matching software or even apps to pair up students with similar interests and habits. At the very least, you probably answered questions about yourself on a survey, so there’s a good chance your roommate is someone you can at least get along with and possibly even really like. Realize that you’ll have much less space than you’re used to at home and be prepared to make some compromises. And if worse comes to worst, you can request a new roommate for next semester and try your best to avoid being around each other for the time being.
When you go away to college, you’re going to miss a lot more stuff than you think you will. Things like always having your favorite foods in the fridge and pantry; your dog or cat; your friends and possibly your boyfriend or girlfriend; even your own bed and furniture. Most new college students feel homesick at one time or another and it’s completely normal to feel sad sometimes, but if you dwell on everything “back home” too much—such as skipping that party you were looking forward to so you can Facebook chat or Skype with your high school friends—you could being doing yourself more harm than good. Realize that other new students are most likely feeling the same you way you are and use it to your advantage. Make new friends and agree to hang out together so you can get used to your new college!
For many people, taking classes that do not meet on a daily basis and learning effective time management skills are the biggest obstacles to overcome. College-level work will probably be a bit harder, but it’s not impossible. Keeping track of what’s due when can be a challenge, so get a student planner or start using Google Calendar to its full capacity.
Non-traditional students are often afraid that younger students will laugh at them for being “old.” In reality, the younger students often look up to older students because they’ve had a bit of a “head start” on many class topics thanks to work and life experience. You might feel a bit uncomfortable at first, but join the club—so does everyone else, for one reason or another.
Colleges and universities hold orientation for a reason. You will get acquainted with campus and learn where things are. College campuses also have directory signs and street signs to help people find things, so you should be fine as long as you give yourself plenty of time to get where you’re going. If all else fails, ask for directions!
Studies have found that the freshman fifteen may actually be a myth, but it’s easy to let extra pounds pile on if you don’t pay attention to what you eat. If you use common sense in the dining hall and get a bit of exercise throughout the week, your favorite jeans should continue to fit.
College movies might have you thinking that life is one big keg party. A lot of college students do drink and party, but that doesn’t mean everyone does. If you’re afraid that you won’t have a social life, go to campus-sponsored events. There (most likely) won’t be any alcohol involved and you’ll have a chance to meet plenty of other people.
College is a time of growth and change, and a lot of people learn that their dream career really isn’t their dream career after all. All freshmen are required to take core classes that can help them determine a course of study, and colleges have career centers to help students make decisions. If you do decide to change your major, it’s not the end of the world (but you may have wasted money taking classes that are now unnecessary.)
Unless you plan on walking around wearing a cardboard sign that says “I’m New!” most people aren’t going to know or care. And everyone was new at some point. By the end of the semester, you’ll wonder why you were ever so concerned in the first place.
Most professors—yes, even the ones who have written books and been published in famous journals—are actually pretty nice people. They are teachers, so a big portion of their job is interacting with students! They would also prefer that students speak up in class, whether it’s to ask questions for clarification or to state their opinions on what is being discussed. Both of those options are a lot more appealing than students who fall asleep or become totally confused because they have no idea what is going on! If you need to see one of your professors outside of class, just be sure to visit during office hours or make an appointment rather than show up unannounced.
Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.
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