New friends. New obligations. New anxieties.
Let’s face it — college is hard.
That might seem obvious at first. From the day we begin to think about applying, the idea of college as a vastly new experience is pounded into our heads. We’re told that our new lives will be challenging, stressful and invigorating.
Even after all of that, it still feels like we’re not prepared enough when we arrive. The 2016 National College Health Assessment found that 50.9 percent of college students felt hopeless at some point during the academic year.
Siblings, parents and friends hype up their own college experiences through sound bites about how “best” everything is.
“Freshman year is the best.”
“You’ll meet the best friends you’ll ever have.”
“College will be the best four years of your life.”
For some, this is immediately true.
Maybe you lucked out and met some amazing people on your hall in your first dorm building. Maybe you’ve always known what you wanted to do, or at least what interests you, and you’ve been desperately anxious to get to college so you can get started.
For others, this seems like an absolute fantasy.
“What’s wrong with me?” you think during your first month of school. “I hate it here. I want to go home.”
These thoughts are perfectly natural. Why wouldn’t they be? This is the first time most students are away from the friends they’ve had since they were young, the first time away from their families, the first time in 18 years living in a new home.
Common worries like what you’re doing after graduation can creep up as early as the first time you ask someone, “What’s your major?” If you’re in a realm of uncertainty, only two things matter in that moment.
One: The student you’re talking to is confident about their path.
Two: You’re not.
It’s important to breathe. Take these thoughts with a grain of salt.
Few people truly know what they’re doing. Even fewer feel comfortable accepting it and sharing their feelings with others.
It’s easy to pick your best moments for social media to show the world how much you’re enjoying your newfound independence. It’s hard to be honest with people about the personal struggles you might be facing.
It might be difficult to avoid looking at someone else’s posts, but remember — everyone’s going through similar experiences. Other people probably think the same thing about you and the things you share.
Take control of your mindset. Take action in unfamiliar ways.
Those “cliche” college statements everyone always tells you? There’s one that’s absolutely true.
Get involved on campus.
We’re lucky to have plenty of groups that don’t require applications. Join departments, clubs, societies. Join anything that gets you to go out into the world so you can find your people.
You’re the driver of your college experience, not the passenger.
Go out of your way to be uncomfortable. Introduce yourself to someone new every day. Seek out experiences you never thought you’d have.
Then, filter out the things that aren’t for you. The initial struggles of college will slowly dissipate.
When you finally eliminate what you don’t like, you’ll be left with an incredible feeling: finding comfort in being uncomfortable.
Everyone on The Brown and White editorial board felt like this during our freshman year. We were uncomfortable. We were nervous. We were scared.
In some ways, we still are.
But it looks like we’ll make it out all right. We’re sure you will too.