Pre-College Anxieties

Doesn't look quite like spring yet!
Doesn’t look quite like spring yet!

I honestly can’t believe how fast this year has gone by. College decisions are almost all out for current high school seniors–it’s an exciting time for lots of people, whether it means wrapping up high school or your first year of college. Soon, there’ll be a fresh batch of newbies. We won’t be the newest arrivals for much longer! So I thought it would be timely and hopefully helpful to write a post about the anxieties I had about college this time last year.

1. How will I make friends?

This one is, from what I’ve gathered, probably one of the most common anxieties for incoming college freshmen. The Facebook page for admitted students overflowing with introductions and questions and “Add your instagram/twitter/snapchat” is a true testimony to the fact that everyone is nervous about meeting new potential friends. For most people, college means showing up to a place full of strangers.

O-week is a flurry of mixed emotions and a continuous meeting of new acquaintances. On one hand, it’s kind of cool that striking up conversation with just about anyone doesn’t come off the slightest bit odd or forward. After all, everyone’s looking to meet each other; that girl or guy you started talking to is most likely relieved that someone approached them. However, you’ll probably never see most of those people again. Or, if you’re like me, you’ll see them around campus and say nothing because you doubt that their memory is as good as yours and they probably have no idea who you are.

Making friends isn’t something that’s easy or quick. There are only so many people in this world that you can connect with instantaneously, and chances are you won’t find them all during the first week, month, or semester of freshman year. This is something I forget sometimes, but it’s true: You don’t stop meeting new people. And you never know when you’re gonna meet another good or great friend. So relax, do things that interest you, take the classes you want. Put yourself out there, but also remember that a lot of friendships will pop up when you least expect them.

2. Can I keep up academically?

College is not high school. Classes are run differently and you’ll be surrounded, in theory, by the many of the best and brightest. Even if you’ve taken AP and IB and other college credit courses, you, as a high school senior, still don’t know what to expect academically when you arrive on campus. How difficult is it gonna be, exactly?

Spoiler alert: If you’re a hard worker, you can handle it. If you take the transition seriously and adjust your schedule/study approach accordingly, you won’t have a problem acclimating yourself to a college workload. It might take some effort, but if you’re willing, you’ll be fine. As for the competition, it’s important to remember that there will always be someone smarter than you. Fixating on being the best isn’t productive. Focus instead on doing well–doing the best work that you can do. Don’t underestimate yourself, either. You may be surrounded by tons of super intelligent people, but you belong just as much as they do and you’re probably just as smart, too.

Personally, I was scared that I’d be exposed as a poser. I thought that maybe I had a weird talent for making myself seem smarter than I really am, and I still occasionally think that I’m just fooling everyone. However, I know now that I can pull my weight. I was accepted for a reason, wasn’t I? If you’re anything like me, believing in yourself is half (if not more) of the struggle.

3. I didn’t party much in high school. What will college be like?

Whatever you want it to be like. If you’re looking to come out of your shell totally and completely, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to do so. If you want to ease yourself into the drunken debauchery, you can take it slow. If you want to keep doing what you’ve been doing, that’s cool too. College can seem, from the outside, like a continuous party. For some, it probably is. For most, it isn’t.

The truth is that everyone’s college experience is vastly different. It’s entirely what you make it. A lot of times, I find myself asking, “Is this what college should be like?” And then I’m reminded that there is no definitive right way. As cheesy as it sounds, just stay true to yourself and you’ll be more than fine. If you’re enjoying yourself, that’s all that matters.

4. Can I even function on my own?

Yes. Now’s the time. If you don’t know how to do laundry, wake yourself up in the morning, budget wisely–you’ll figure it out. And if you make a few mistakes along the way, take them as valuable learning experiences! After all, college is about learning inside and outside of the classroom. The bottom line is that nobody knows exactly what they’re doing all the time, no matter how put together they look. Even if it’s a struggle at first, you’ll make it through.

So to the newly admitted class of 2019 (especially Cornell because I’m biased), congratulations! Enjoy the rest of senior year because it’s almost gone, and don’t worry too much about going off to college. Just get excited and take things one step at a time when you arrive on campus in the fall.

~Natalie

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