Yes, it's true that college is going to be the greatest time of your life. You're independent, living with your newfound friends, and studying something that (hopefully) interests you. However, there are some unfortunate realities you should brace yourself for before you get there, because let's face it, living with hundreds of other freshman in a tightly-packed dorm on a campus with thousands of other people is probably not anybody's ideal setting. Here are a few facts you should take into account before you get to college:
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- You aren't the smartest anymore-The bottom line is that college is much harder than high school. I'm sure you think you already know this and think this is common sense, but you won't fully understand it until you're actually there. If you went to a private high school, you might have a better understanding of this because of the application process. You were accepted to the college you're attending because you met the credentials for the school. However, so did everybody else. Some, maybe even you, surpassed these standards and were rewarded with a scholarship. Ultimately, you may not do as well as you had expected, but don't worry, it just takes time to figure out how to excel in more challenging classes.
- You have to put yourself out there- When I was going through the college process, I was looking at relatively smaller schools. I remember at each tour that I went on, they would always mention in the information session that because they're a smaller school, it's easier to get in contact with professors and get involved in clubs. However, just because it's easier, doesn't mean that it's going to automatically happen. You really have to get aggressive and go out of your way to talk to professors and stand out in clubs and organizations, not matter the size of your school.
- Naps will become your best friend- I never took naps in high school. I always got my eight hours of sleep, woke up, went to school, went to a club, did my homework, and went to sleep. Unfortunately, that's not how college works. You can have classes at any time of the day, depending on when they're offered, and you have to deal with it. That could mean waking up for an 8 a.m. economics class and staying up for a 7 p.m. lab that runs until 10:30 p.m. Plus, you have to get your work done (which can't be put together last minute like it could in high school) in your free time, make it to clubs, and still maintain a social life. If you want to get your work done, you may have to stay up late sometimes, or if you're a morning person, wake up early. Basically, power naps are the best way to go.
- What is privacy again?- One of the biggest transitions into college is living with a roommate. If you like him/her, then it can be a great year. You're basically living with your best friend and you have somebody to help you whenever you need it. But on the other hand, everybody wants their own alone time. I know I tend to study by talking out loud and you can't really do that in a library or when your roommate is trying to read a book. Luckily, the University of Rochester had a library dedicated to people who want to talk while they study, but not everybody has that advantage. My best tip for you would have to be talk to your roommate and find times where you can have the room to yourself and he/she can have the room to his/herself. Basically, communication is the best way to go.
- The Freshman 15 isn't a joke/Nothing beats a home-cooked meal- When you have unlimited swipes into the dining hall like I did and when you have homework to procrastinate, what's better than eating your way out of boredom? When you're on your own, you don't have your parents to watch what you eat and they ultimately have no way to control it. So what's the best way to fight the Freshman 15? Going to the gym is a great way to be social and burn calories. Speaking of food, no matter how good (or possibly even bad) your dining hall food is, nothing will ever come close to a home-cooked meal. Luckily for you, there are several long-term breaks that you can go home for every once in a while. Your parents will automatically see a drastic change in your appreciation for their food as soon as you get home.
So college may have a few problems here and there, but I promise you that you'll figure out how to deal with them if you just know them beforehand. Remember to be agressive, communicate with others, and stand out from the crowd, and you won't have to worry. Don't be embarrassed to go out of your way to talk to a professor or even your roommate because in the long run, it will be worth it. Oh, and if your parents offer to take you out for dinner this summer, just say yes, you'll be glad you did.