Don’t worry, most incoming freshmen have the same common college fears, so you are not alone! Luckily, there is lots of information available on how to fight these college fears off so that you can succeed and have a great time furthering your education.
Making The Right Choices
Choosing the right college, major, friends, and just how to spend your time can become huge college fears for many. Everyone makes mistakes now and again, but the issue likely won’t become as big as you are making it in your head. Try to avoid ruminating on past mistakes and stressing about future ones. Once a decision has been made, simply move forward from it as best as you can. If you need advice or help deciding what’s right, call home or reach out to your school’s RA or counselor to talk through it with you. In the end, just take a deep breath and remind yourself that no one is perfect and you are doing the best you can. One mistake, or even a hundred, most likely will not ruin your life.
Your Ability To Succeed
One of the most common college fears is not being able to do what you need to do in order to succeed. This depends largely on your definition of success. With so many things to focus on, Those who found they were straight-A students in high school may suddenly find themselves with B’s and C’s. This is completely normal and is a representation of the higher difficulty of the classes. Living on your own, making new friends, starting a new school and everything else you have thrown at you is likely to be stressful. If you feel yourself slipping, reach out to on-campus resources or your own support group. Tutors, counselors, and many other staff members are there simply to help you succeed.
Living With A Roommate
Lots of college fears arise from the idea of having to share a room with another person. If you are used to having your own room, sharing a space can be very difficult. Unfortunately, there are not many easy answers on how to find your own space, but there are still things you can do. Setting times that each of you gets the room to yourself, finding a hangout space on campus, and making your section of the room feel like your own will increase your comfort levels dramatically. Many colleges will have you fill out and sign a roommate agreement in the first few weeks of school. If the following questions and topics are not listed, be sure to discuss them with your roommate on your own time. How early or late do each of you like to sleep? Are you each in charge of your part of the room or will the whole space be shared? How will cleaning responsibilities be split? Is it okay to bring guests over? If you’re lucky, all your answers will overlap, but this is not the case for many. Try coming to compromises over any disputes, such as bedtimes or guests, by planning a time that the lights get shut off or a system for warning your roommate about potential visitors. If issues continue to arise, try talking directly to your roommate first, but if the problems persist and become too difficult to deal with, there are some options available. RA’s (or Residential Assistants) are available to assist you with interpersonal issues and, if it becomes absolutely necessary, able to help you find a new room placement.
Long-Distance Relationships And Homesickness (With Friends, Family, and Significant Others)
Though it takes varying amounts of time for you to begin experiencing it, most college students will feel homesick at one point or another. Missing your friends, family, and/or significant other can make it hard to enjoy the space you are currently in. Be sure to have a plan for maintaining your relationships, such as daily texts and phone calls or dinner over skype once a month. Stay in contact with the people back home, but don’t let it take away from your experience! Focus on finding a club, team, or group of friends that you enjoy being with. Whenever you are with that group, make an active effort to be engaged with them instead of thinking about the people you miss. It is important to find independence in your new life while still incorporating everyone you left behind.
Not Having Enough Time
Between classes, homework, clubs, working a job, hanging out with new friends, and keeping up with old ones, there is often not a lot of free time. For anyone who is capable of following a schedule, I highly recommend marking down specific times each wor for you to complete your homework. For example, if your English class requires an essay every other week, you should have time blocked out over the course of two weeks to work on each essay. If you have assigned reading for a religion class, try sitting down immediately after class to complete the task so it is done, leaving you stress-free and able to focus on other things.
Living on your own (or relatively so if you have a roommate) can be tricky, but is also an exciting new experience for most! The first thing you need to do to prepare is to ensure you know how to properly wash clothes, do the dishes, and clean your room. These essentials are extremely important to feeling comfortable living on your own. Once you have the basics down, try listing your priorities in order. Be sure to dedicate time each day to doing the most important and necessary things, such as homework and cleaning, then reward yourself with a fun activity! Giving yourself rewards for success will help keep you on track when there isn’t someone there telling you what to do. Further, remember that just because you are living by yourself doesn’t mean you are alone. Don’t be ashamed to call home for advice, ask the RA for tips, or just talk to other students for advice.
Money And Student Loan Debt
Student debt is one of the biggest college fears preventing potential students from furthering their education. If you are planning on attending a university in the United States, it is likely you will have to take out loans and accumulate debt in order to pay for your education. This can add a lot of stress and in turn, take away from your ability to succeed in school. There are several things you can do to try and limit the costs of attendance. If you haven’t definitively picked a school yet, consider choosing a college with a lower tuition cost. Technical colleges are a great place to get your associates done before transferring to a university to finish your bachelorette. This can help save a ton of money, as technical colleges are significantly cheaper than a four-year university. Additionally, public universities offer the same benefits of a private college or university for several thousand dollars less in tuition. If one of your biggest college fears is racking up debt, the school you choose to attend is very important. Once you have a college picked out, start a dialogue with your admissions counselor and financial aid team. There is often a lot more they can do for you than you may expect! I was able to get an additional $500 scholarship simply by communicating my struggle to pay to my financial aid counselor. There are often keywords they are looking for here to determine your eligibility, so talking to them in person and explaining your situation can help check some of the boxes. While in school, ask for a work-study position where your paycheck will be applied directly to your student account. When it comes to paying back loans, be sure to pay the principal first before the interest. This is extremely important! Paying towards the principal will lower both how much you owe and how much you are getting taxed, whereas just paying the interest will only help keep your head above water.
Talking To Professors
Talking to professors may seem scary, but they are usually very nice! On the first day of class when discussing the syllabus, most professors will list their office hours so that you know exactly when and where they will be available for you to come in and talk. Set up a time in advance if you can and show up knowing what you would like to discuss. Bring along any materials you may need if it is in regards to the class itself. If you cannot bring yourself to meet them in person at first, email is fine too! Try to avoid sending emails after 11 pm out of respect and put your last name in the subject of the email. Most modern-day professors are not too strict, so don’t worry if your email sounds a little casual, but be sure to use proper capitalization and grammar as you would in a paper.
Making New Friends / Fitting In
Not making any new friends, not fitting in, and feeling alone are all extremely prevalent college fears. Let’s get this out of the way first: college is not high school. Unlike in high school, where your main similarity was what town you are from, people choose the college they think they will like best. That means the student body is already more likely to be similarly minded individuals to you! Try leaving your door room door open, sitting at a new table each time you go to the cafeteria, and frequenting the main campus hang out spots to meet more people. Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not to fit in, as it will prevent you from making real friends in the process.
Gaining Weight (The Freshman Fifteen)
One of the most common college fears is gaining the ‘freshman fifteen’. While there is no problem with adding a few pounds, many people will want to prevent it. Here are a few tips to keep your body as healthy as the day you graduated high school! Most colleges have gyms available to use for free is you are a student. Take advantage and find an exercise routine that works for you. Not only will this help keep you fit, but it will also keep you mentally healthy by reducing stress and regulating your body! If you have a meal plan, you are obviously limited to the choices your school offers. Be sure to include fruits and vegetables in at least one meal a day and avoid returning to the dessert tray or ice cream counter multiple times after a meal. If you plan to cook your own food, stay away from starch and sugar-heavy foods. Find healthy protein options such as chicken and almonds to use as an alternative to red meat. One more thing to consider is that stress and lack of sleep can increase weight gain, so taking care of your mental health is extremely important, especially if your weight plays a role in your mental health.
Your Ability To Impact The World
Not being able to change the world or worrying you are wasting your time are two college fears that are becoming more and more common as our world seemingly falls apart. Four years can seem like forever sometimes, so if you feel like you need to be out there making a difference right now, don’t worry! There are usually plenty of on-campus organizations striving to make a difference in subjects from politics to nature conservation. Try joining one or more organizations to help make your voice heard. If this isn’t enough, consider reaching out to your school or local newspaper asking if you can write articles on important topics that interest you as a freelance writer. This method can also help bring in some extra cash, bonus!