So, you’re going to college soon, congratulations! Whether it be your junior year, your senior year, or the summer right before your freshman year of college. There are tons of things I worried about before going to college and just as many things I wish people would have told me beforehand to alleviate all of my fears. But just because no one ever told me, doesn’t mean that no one ought to tell you! I’m going to tell you everything you need to know to be mentally prepared for college and to stop stressing about it so much!
My Experience: When It Hit Me
I’m not going to lie, I didn’t even start thinking seriously about college until my last semester of senior year. I applied for the college I wanted, got accepted, and filled out all the necessary applications. I had done all of that, but I hadn’t actually stopped to think about what college would actually be like. All of that hit later. About 10% of that realization hit me my last ever semester of high school. Another 15% gradually hit throughout the summer.
Then, college move-in week came about and the other 75% of that realization hit. I was moving to college. There’re many words I could use to describe that feeling when it all hit me.
Phase One: Shock
First, there was the shock. All of this was actually happening. I was so comfortable with the routine of high school life and the small school I had attended since kindergarten. There were twenty-five people in my graduating class. I could tell you the first, middle, and last names of every one of them, no problem. I was leaving a high school of a total of 130 to move to a university with 30,000+ people. Of course, I had known that there was a huge difference between those numbers. However, I hadn’t even stopped to think about the reality of it all. That is, until move-in week forced me to come face to face with it.
Phase Two: Panic & Anxiety
Next, there was the panic and anxiety. I didn’t feel at all ready. There were only three days left until move-in day and I had to prepare myself for college. I should’ve spent the whole summer doing so. That panic and anxiety was also accentuated with worry and stress. I was worried I’d mess up or forget to do something important amidst all the chaos. There was stress about packing, forgetting something at home, making all new friendships and relationships at a new place, and about having to do everything alone. I was also worried about living alone, doing my laundry, and keeping organized throughout the semester. Everything that a soon-to-be college student could possibly stress about, I stressed about.
Phase Three: Denial
And finally, there was the denial. Unfortunately, it took a month for the stress to finally let up. I had finally managed to get the hang of things by October. However, through that phase of panic, stress, worry, and anxiety, I simultaneously faced denial and lost confidence in my abilities. After I moved into my dorm at the university, I felt some stress ease away that was caused by the hectic packing and unpacking, but that stress was quickly replaced by the stress of being responsible and independent. Like, what were those two words and what the heck did they even mean??
I liked to do a lot of things by myself growing up because I trusted myself to get the job done quickly, efficiently, and perfectly (and just the way I wanted it to be), but little did I know . . . Just because I liked to do my own thing a lot of the time, that did not mean I wasn’t dependent on my parents. In fact, I was more dependent on my parents than I could’ve ever imagined. I had to learn lots of responsibility and independence in my first month of college, which just made it all the more stressful.
What I Needed: To Be Prepared
Now at this point, you’re probably just begging me to get on with it. I know you want the secret to not being stressed when college move-in time comes. So I’ll go ahead and get on with it.
There are a lot of things people could have told me that would’ve lessened my stress about college. People didn’t tell me all of these things beforehand, but I’ll tell you now in hopes of relieving some of your pre-college anxiety.
A COUPLE THINGS YOU OUGHT TO KNOW TO AVOID THE “WTF I’M GOING TO COLLEGE” FREAK OUT
⇨ No matter how many blog posts you read or youtube videos you watch, nothing can completely prepare you.
Odds are you’re going to be stressed, panicked, worried, and anxious no matter how much you research for college. That’s just how it is. But you shouldn’t be disheartened. Being prepared lessens the stress and anxiety significantly, even if it can’t dispel it completely
⇨ Learn how to do your laundry.
Unless you want to pay for a cleaning service to do your laundry (I don’t recommend — I’m always an advocate for saving your money), I highly advise you learn how to do your own. Lucky for you, there’re tons of videos and blog posts out there to teach you!
⇨ Learn how to wash your dishes.
All you need is soap, wash cloths or sponges, hand towels, and hot running water. There are also videos and blog posts on this.
⇨ Read all of the emails that are sent to your school email.
I am a victim of not thoroughly reading my emails (I stuck a lot of important ones in my trash folder at the start of the semester). It almost cost me.You can learn a lot of important information from these including but not limited to:
⟶ Class cancellations: Most teachers send out mass emails to all of their students, so checking your email first thing in the morning could be beneficial and allow you to go back to sleep easily if you haven’t fully woken up already.
⟶ Exam dates and locations: Sometimes professors don’t specify locations for exams on their syllabus, or maybe the location is TBA (to be announced) so you need to watch out for those emails that will inform you of things like that.
⟶ Great opportunities: There are many great opportunities that are sent into your emails such as: important guests, discounted tickets to shows or concerts on or near campus, discounts in the school stores, and free merch if you go to certain events.
⟶ Internship opportunities: You probably won’t need to know of internships your first year, but it’s good to be aware of these emails so you know to pay attention to them in later years.
⟶ Required events: If you don’t attend, it may create a hold on your account and prevent you from signing up for next semester’s classes.
⟶ Announcements: This could be from class schedule changes to reminders about homework or readings you need to do for class.
⟶ Extra Assignments: Professors have been known to send out extra worksheets or assignments out through emails.
⟶ Office hour changes: I cannot tell you how many emails I got about my professors changing their office hours. Like, how depressing would it be if you got out of your nice comfy bed in 23 degree November weather to take a 15 minute walk across campus to your professor’s office hours only to find out they were cancelled or changed? Check your emails, folks.
⟶ Free or low cost events: Concerts (I met the lead singer from American Authors because I paid attention to my email!!), improv performances, short film showings, movies projected in auditoriums or on the football field, etc.
⟶ Deadlines: Deadlines to sign up for classes, get rid of holds on your account, or do things before a particular date are often sent through emails.
⇨ Print off the syllabus for every one of your classes.
Print off every single syllabus and keep them somewhere where you can always access them. Or download them onto your laptop and put them in their own “Fall/Spring 20– Syllabus” folder. This way, if you have any questions about a class, you can check the syllabus before asking your professor. These are also helpful if you forget to write down assignments or exams in the class. They are most likely on the syllabus.
⇨ Enter all of your classes, times, and their locations into your phone calendar for the whole semester.
This is what I did, and it helped me keep track of the when and where of all my classes. I spent a couple hours looking through the syllabus for the locations and times of both exams and assignments. I entered my class schedule, along with the times and locations. In addition, I set it to remind me that I had a class half-an-hour before each class was to start. In that one sitting, I entered all of my classes for every day of the whole entire semester. This kept me so organized and helped me with time management.
⇨ Walk around campus and find your classes before the first day.
Walking around campus and finding your classes ahead of time will save you from the embarrassment of getting lost and walking into the wrong class or showing up late to the right one.
⇨ Go to as many welcome events as you can.
This is where you’ll find lots of friends who you may keep in contact with throughout the semester. You’ll be able to meet a lot of people and actually talk to them and get to know them. Sometimes, class isn’t the best place for you to meet long-lasting friends and have actual meaningful conversations.
There you have it! If you take these things into consideration and even more important, follow them through, you’ll be a lot less stressed when it comes time to start your freshman year of college!
For prospective college students, what are some other college-related things you’re worried or stressed about? For current or graduate college students, what are some other tips you’d give to teens about to head off to college?
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