What I wish someone had told me…
There is no shortage advice and stories for prospective college students. You will hear plenty of about how you “should” do the college application and selection process, as well as what you can expect when you finally arrive on Move-In Day for your first semester.
As a faculty member I work with First-Year students, and speak to parents of these students. I encounter story after story from new students who reflect back on the process of getting to college from the vantage point of 2-3 months of college under their belt. Their stories are often very similar; so much so, that I asked several of them to tell me, “What they wish someone had told them…” Here are their stories, in their own words. I’m hopeful they might give you an active voice of reality in this midst of all the “should” voices!
Transitioning to college is certainly an uneasy time. There are many mixed emotions including nervousness, excitement, and confusion. I wish I had known that college work is not a scary beast that is impossible to tame. If a student allots the proper amount of time to calmly complete an assignment, the school work is easily manageable. Also, I wish I had known that being so far away from home is really not scary, it is freeing. While there may be moments of homesickness, the precious time spent with loved ones is that much more cherished after having been away.
I wasn’t worried about the grades since I felt motivated that what I would be doing in college would be more relevant to what I want to pursue. However I will say freshman year there will have to be some pointless classes you have to get out of the way ( not FYS of course ) but staying inspired in the courses that are relevant to you is critical! On a more personal note, dealing with a relationship entering college is going to be much different, the people, the place and sometimes people change and they come or go from your life as was the case with me. Things will change and people will be out of your life but so is the way of this world and all that can come from it is another way to connect with another soul. It’s a chapter and they should be excited! Don’t worry about what you can’t control and don’t take for granted where you are.
Most of my questions revolved around how to get involved but not get overwhelmed. It is an entirely new experience that we cannot ever fully prepare for. Once I realized that I could focus on what I wanted and not only making the best for my future but also for now I was a lot more relaxed. I learned that it is okay to sit in my room for a day if I don’t feel like forcing myself to meet new people and it is also ok to try and get to know others. You have to figure out what interests you and what is the right process. Even following your own study habits becomes easier.
I didn’t know what the workload would be like. It is very different than past years of school. Our schedules are more spread out, we are held responsible for getting our work in, there isn’t daily homework but teachers don’t leave you out on a limb. They generally remind you when something big is coming up and help you make the most of the work you do, instead of a bunch of busy work. While it is more challenging, the way it is approached makes it a lot easier than I had anticipated. It isn’t as bad as high school teachers lead us to believe when they say they are “preparing you.” AP classes felt like torture but they aren’t pointless, they make college seem a billion times easier.
Most of what I had been worried about as far as technical stuff was concerned (finding my classes, registration etc) was addressed. It isn’t hard to find someone willing to help direct a lost freshman or answer questions. It is the more personal things that can be troublesome.
Before college I had a huge concern about keeping up with the workload. I was an honor student in high school, but I wasn’t sure if that would translate to college. So, something that the high school students might like to know is that college can be challenging, but it is very much manageable. Although things may seemed overwhelming at first, I found a way to manage my time properly so that I had fun, but I got my work done without getting too stressed about it (by prioritizing and not having too much fun, but knowing when I need to work instead of hangout with my friends…) Also, they are probably concerned about making friends as I was. However, I discovered that there’s a place for everybody and you don’t have to try hard to find it, because it will find you.
Dane Anthony’s career in higher education spans nearly 30 years on both public and private university campuses. He has worked in the areas of Counseling, Residence Life & Housing, Student Health & Wellness, New Student & Parent Orientation, Parent Programming, and University Chaplaincy. He currently serves on the General Education & Religion faculty at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee.
Dane’s blog: College Parent 101.com focuses on transition issues for parents of new college students.
Photo Credit: Pink Sherbet Photography