By Christina Muñoz |
Dear Overwhelmed College Freshman,
I know it’s difficult — the unfamiliarity, the adjustment, the second-guessing. College is a whole new world for you and maybe it’s not exactly what you were expecting. From one college student to another, I am here to help.
Get plugged in
My first piece of advice is to get plugged in. Meet the people in your hall, try out that organization you heard about and join an intramural team for a sport you’ve never played. You’ll be surprised by the connections you’ll make. And, even if the Greek organization you wanted to join doesn’t work out or you choose to leave the on-campus job you just got, you’ll learn more about yourself from your experience and have a better understanding of what fits for you. Sure it may be nerve-racking, but trust me it’s worth a shot.
Find a balance
Yes, it’s important to get involved but don’t get too involved. The last thing you want is to have too much on your plate. Take what you can handle and learn to say “no.” Make time to turn in your assignments when they’re due and study for your exams. School doesn’t necessarily die down the closer you get to finals, so make sure you can juggle your responsibilities now so you can focus on working toward that degree with a decent GPA.
Ask for help
Don’t be afraid to ask a “dumb” question. Whether you feel unclear about an assignment or you feel like your major isn’t for you, use your resources. Ask a teacher, a classmate or an advisor. I remember sitting through my first day of neuroscience classes, knowing something was off. I set up an appointment with an advisor and he helped guide me through switching my major. Thinking back, I wonder how different my life would be now if I never reached out for help.
Don’t expect perfection
At the beginning of my study abroad experience, my professor told the group to “expect things to go wrong.” At first, I thought this sounded negative and wasn’t a fan of the advice. But, as the trip continued and things did, in fact, go wrong, I discovered it’s through the imperfection that we learn how to mature and handle situations. I would consider myself Type A: I like things to go a certain way and tend to have high expectations. But it’s a humbling experience when things don’t go as planned because it forces you to adapt and face reality. I don’t want to sugarcoat things and tell you this won’t happen to you in college because it will. But expecting things to be imperfect doesn’t have to be a bad thing — it’s about how you handle these situations that makes all the difference.
You’re getting the hang of something new, and so is everyone else around you. It’s normal to feel homesick and shed a tear at some point. Even those who seem to have it all together are struggling in some way or another. You’re not alone. You got this. Take a deep breath, look forward and stay positive because as long as you don’t give up the best is yet to come.
All the best,