As the new academic year draws ever closer, I am reminded of how I felt two years ago, starting as a freshman with many high (perhaps too high) expectations about how college life would be. Now, I’m seeing a lot of my oblivious eighteen-year-old self in a friend of mine who has very similar hopes to the ones I had as she prepares to leave for college. And so I’ve taken it upon myself to relieve her of her stress over non-existent problems that she feels she will encounter during her freshman year – and now I share them with you.
1. Don’t stress about looking great 24/7. I remember telling myself I would look flawless every day at college but after partying into the early hours of the morning or pulling an all-nighter studying, the last thing I wanted to do was make an effort to look good at my 9AM lecture! You’ll find you won’t be the only one showing up in sweatpants. In fact, you’ll see more students in sweats and pajamas than you will looking like they just stepped off the catwalk – no matter what the movies may lead you to believe!
2. Don’t stress about going to ALL of the freshman events. There are so many welcome week events and plenty of chances to meet new people. Don’t force yourself into the awkward ice breakers, but instead pick and choose the events that interest you the most. That way, you’ll be more likely to make friends that have stuff in common with you!
3. Don’t stress about living in a dorm. Yes, the prospect of moving in with a bunch of strangers can see pretty daunting at first but remember that you are all in the same boat! Be confident and introduce yourself to everyone. You’ll be able to forge relationships quickly by being open and friendly – whatever you do, don’t hide away in your room! Unless you enjoy your own company, it’s important not to isolate yourself, especially if you’re likely to get homesick.
4. Don’t stress about finding your “college romance.” As much as I’d like to tell you that on your first day you’ll meet the love of your life – the chances of that happening in this day and age isn’t too likely. A lot of guys and girls take advantage of the fact that there is no longer parental supervision to stop them from inviting multiple lays back to their dorms. Freshman year, I’ve found, is a time that most students want to be single and party – so embrace that and enjoy yourself, because you won’t get your first year back!
5. Don’t stress about your timetable. I know more courses require more study hours than others but you will find a balance between your workload and everything else – promise! The volume of college work may come as a bit of a culture shock compared to what you were used to in high school, but you do soon learn to manage it all over time.
6. Don’t stress about losing touch with your friends from home. It’s always a concern when you get separated from the individuals that you’ve been with throughout school, especially if none of you are going to the same college or within reasonable traveling distance. But, honestly, if they are your true friends and you all want to maintain close contact, then you will. If you haven’t already, set up a Whatsapp or Facebook group chat to keep each other updated – it’ll be like you’re not even apart!
7. Don’t stress about making new friends. College offers a ridiculous number of ways to meet and befriend new people, whether that is through your course, societies, clubs, sororities, dormitories and student jobs – the opportunity is there, but it’s up to you to seize it! A lot of freshmen feel they need to be outrageous to make friends but make sure it’s for the right reasons. Don’t do what I know one guy did to get himself a “rep,” which involved biting off a dead fish’s head before his neck nomination and on another occasion, sticking a vodka-soaked tampon up his ass (yes, really).
8. Don’t stress about money. College fees are higher than they have ever been, but that doesn’t mean you need to live like a peasant for the entire duration of your course. If you haven’t got time to get a part-time job, just be sensible with your money; don’t blow all of your student loan on crazy nights out or material items. If it helps, make a month-by-month rota of how much you plan to spend on the important stuff like food and college books. Anything you have left over can be used for whatever you like – and remember to keep an eye on your bank balance!
9. Don’t stress about getting stressed. Sometimes, the drastic change of environment, homesickness, workload and whatever else can get on top of you and if you are a delicate little flower then make sure you know your college’s student support details. Every college dorm has on-campus student support services for day and night (though night-time tends to be when anxiety gets to you the most, so make a note of the phone/night lines you can contact if you’re feeling down.) Additionally, there is always on-campus counselors to visit and help you with anything and everything.
10. Finally, don’t stress about making university “the best years of your life.” Remember, you are there to get a degree, after all. Make sure you prioritize because at your graduation, you want to be proud of yourself for all that you have achieved and have no regrets.
So take it from me, a former freshman girl who finds hindsight to be a wonderful thing: Don’t focus on the trivial stuff like the guy who wants you to be his booty-call rather than his girlfriend or not getting along with your cheerleading squad or going out every night five times a week – in ten years’ time, none of that will matter. It is your degree and your extra-curricular work that has an influence on the rest of your life, so make it count. Look after yourself, and enjoy college!
Featured image via Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels