There is pretty much nothing more exciting and scary than thinking about crossing the threshold into your freshman year of college. Your parents won't be telling you what time to get up or that you need to study. You can stay out as late as you like with whomever you like. Don’t feel like going to class? No problemo. The professor isn’t going to report you and your parents will never know. FREEDOM!
We asked some recent college grads what most surprised them about their freshman year, and here are some things they wished they had known:
95% of college freshmen have never shared a room with anybody, so you have to figure out how to communicate, handle conflict, respect each other’s differences and create clear boundaries. This is easier said than done, but worth the discussion for sure.
ABOUT YOUR PARENTS...
They may only be a phone call away, but they shouldn’t be coming onto campus to do your laundry, making sure you get to class, nagging you to study or setting up a party so you can get to know people. This is truly your chance to take advantage of what you've learned and put it into practice.
BE PREPARED TO:
- Know how to do your laundry.
- Live on a budget.
- Manage your time. Don’t let the freedom go to your head.
- Go to class.
- Get involved in a few organizations to help you meet people.
- Avoid the temptation to go home every weekend.
ALCOHOL, DRUGS... AND SEX
No matter where you go to school, you might be shocked at the drug and alcohol scene. You may choose to stay away from it, but your roommate might not. (And it can definitely impact your relationship...) If you do choose to participate, don't underestimate the kinds of things that can happen when you are under the influence. Chances are great that you will participate in behavior you otherwise would not get involved in.
Use your head. If you go to a party, get your own drink. Before you go somewhere alone, tell someone where you are going or even better - take somebody with you.
You should familiarize yourself with your college’s sexual misconduct policy and definition of consent and know what a healthy relationship looks like. Think about your boundaries ahead of time.
Maybe you want to do some things differently at college, or perhaps there are some friendships you know you need to leave behind. Freshman year is an opportunity for a fresh start and greater independence. Take this time to become who you really want to be and surround yourself with people who will help you reach your goals. The next four years are laying a foundation for your future, and how you spend your college years really does matter.
Sometimes, truth be told, the whole thing is super overwhelming, but nobody wants to admit that’s the case. If you ever feel like you're in over your head, don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are plenty of free resources on campus to help you adjust to campus life.
This article was originally published
in the Chattanooga Times Free Press on August 16, 2019.