Starting your journey of higher education places you in completely uncharted territory. While it is true that college can serve to be the most formative years of your life, the first semester provides the most drastic change for many. Here are five ways you will experience change during your first semester of college.
You Will Become A Product Of Your New Environment
Whether you are attending a four-year university far from home, enrolled in online courses, or taking classes at a junior college ten minutes from home, college is a completely different environment than high school. Being in a new (at times intimidating) setting will inevitably cause you to change.
If you’re attending a large university and attending lectures with 200+ people, that environment can cause even the most independent social butterfly to shrink back and develop that go to class and go home mentality. But large universities also present the opportunity to familiarize yourself with diverse cultures and socialize with people you wouldn’t have encountered at your high school.
Meanwhile, at smaller universities, it can cause many to hold on to that high school feeling. Cliques form within the first few weeks of the semester and drama ensues. It’s also true that it’s easier to feel like a family and find a solid group of friends at smaller universities.
No matter what the culture of your campus is, your character, personality, and overall moral compass will be affected by it. If, at the end of the semester, you find yourself unable to recognize the person you’ve become, evaluate whether your environment has affected you in a positive manner.
New Responsibilities Will Challenge Your Mental and Emotional Health
In college, everyone must face their own individual set of responsibilities. There are hopeful student athletes with aspirations to build a legacy, full-time students with a full-time job, and pre-med students with an intimidating course load, to describe a few. Even if you don’t exactly resemble that type of student, you will be introduced to a new level of responsibility.
It probably won’t be long into your first semester when you encounter overwhelming moments when getting out of bed and completing your obligations will take every ounce of energy that you can muster. There are two ways people react to this feeling: embrace the struggle and persevere or admit defeat.
You’ll learn that avoiding procrastination, admitting when you’re overwhelmed, and venting to loved ones can help relieve some of the emotional and mental pressure you may be under. It is also normal to reach out to a professional to talk and process the complications that come with beginning this new chapter of your life.
Your Family Dynamic Will Change
This is especially relevant to students who live on campus and only visit home periodically. You may feel like a guest in your own home and you’ll go from doing things on your own terms to abiding by your parent’s guidelines.
Many parents will develop an elevated set of expectations for you as a college student. This could result in what seems like less tolerance but really reflects their eagerness for you to succeed. When it comes to siblings, beginning college can help you connect more with ones older than you. Now that you’ve had a taste of the “real world,” you understand what it’s like to have adult consequences and responsibilities.
You Will Develop A New Relationship With Money
There are few college students who have access to an endless flow of money. Whether you’re working to support yourself or receive an allowance from your parents, you will see money differently as you navigate your first semester. Even if you had healthy spending habits in high school, you will still be forced to adapt to your new financial responsibilities. You may even embrace the idea of setting a budget.
Of course, every student’s responsibilities differ, but you’ll most likely have to pay for textbooks, supplies, gas or transportation if you commute, a meal plan, and housing if you reside on campus. Attending university isn’t cheap; you’ll realize money management skills are typically learned after a major screw up and you run out of money five days before your next direct deposit hits.
Your High School Study Habits Will Make Or Break Your GPA
During your first semester, you may find yourself distracted by a completely new environment and neglect the reason why you’re paying thousands of dollars to attend college. All throughout high school you probably acknowledged that college course loads are challenging and require your undivided attention. Nevertheless, you may find yourself on Thanksgiving break dealing with the realization that you need a 105 on your final in order to pass the class.
On the other hand, starting out college with a low GPA doesn’t have to be apart of your journey. It’s so normalized on social media to embrace shitty study habits such as all-night cram sessions accompanied by caffeine addiction and anxiety attacks. Believe it or not, falling into procrastination-enabled bad habits is completely avoidable.
There will always be an adjustment period during your first semester of college and it will affect each person’s academic success differently. Unfortunately, there is no sure-fire way to predict how the study habits you developed in high school will reflect on your college grades. People who graduated top of their high school’s class can go on to struggle during their first semester. Meanwhile, those who found it hard to thrive in a coddling high school environment can truly step into their potential with the freedom college provides.
Pursuing education beyond high school is an experience where you are responsible for what you get from it. Your first semester is only the beginning of your journey as a college student. An enlightened sense of self, refined mental and emotional toughness, evolving familial relationships, an awakened perception of money and a better grasp of your learning style are just a few ways that your life will transform during your first semester of college.
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I'M CURRENTLY A COLLEGE FRESHMAN STUDYING JOURNALISM AND FIGURING OUT LIFE ONE DAY AT A TIME.