The summer before college is all fun and games (and lots of Facebook stalking, of course) until it sinks in that in just a few weeks you will not be returning to the school that you attended for four years. You will be away from your friends and family –– and you will once again be a freshman.
While there are some bonuses to college life like eating whatever you want, staying out as late as you want and being able to freely binge watch OITNB without your mom asking you what you’re doing with your life, there are definitely other aspects that are a bit more nerve-wracking.
If you’re feeling a bit nervous about starting college in the fall, join the club. Take a look at these seven common fears that anyone who has been through their freshman year of college will definitely look at and say been there, done that and lived to tell the tale.
Fear #1: I’m going to gain the Freshman 15
The Freshman 15 is quite possibly the most infamous college fear of all time. If you’ve been to orientation already, you probably at least have an idea of some of the meal plans that you can choose from, which may have made your fear that much more real.
Let’s be real: although it’s nice to think that you will choose the meal that your mom would, who can pass up buffet-style food, pizza and all the ice cream you could ever want? It’s perfectly fine to want to enjoy all the new food that your dining hall has to offer. However, if gaining a little bit of weight your freshman year is one of your fears, get ahead of it and plan out a gym schedule for yourself!
Since it is your first year of college and you don’t know exactly what your school schedule is going to look like, be realistic about your workout schedule. If you don’t always have time for the gym, there are also plenty of workouts that you can do from the comfort of your dorm room like this great butt routine!
Try to eat relatively well, but don’t feel bad about enjoying your favorite snacks every now and then. Moderation is key! “I knew a huge part of the freshman 15 was late night food, so I made a commitment to never order in pizza after already eating dinner,” says Elana Golub, a junior at Northwestern University. “Even though it seems like such a small thing, it really helped to keep the calories from adding up!” It’s the little things that count when it comes to staying away from the Freshman 15.
Fear #2: I won’t get along with my roommate
We have all seen at least one college movie that shows the cliché: polar opposite roommates. One roommate has enough pink to put Elle Woods to shame while the other has items that one would typically only see in a horror movie. Well, lucky for you that is an extreme situation that you will more than likely not find yourself in. You’re probably more likely to be concerned about your roommate using your stuff or having her SO over 24/7. The most difficult part about having a roommate that you don’t know is the not knowing part. Once you meet on move-in day, some of your apprehension will probably go away. However, living together does not automatically guarantee that you will BFFs.
Sometimes, the best that you can hope for is that you and your roommate will co-exist without any major blowouts, but you shouldn’t let that ruin your freshman year. “Freshmen year, I really hoped to become close with my roommates and I thought that we would do everything together,” says Kerry Moore, a junior at the University of South Carolina. “I quickly realized that we didn’t have similar interests and our personalities didn’t really mesh. At first, I was disappointed but if it wasn’t for my roommate situation I would never have met the girl next door who is now one of my best friends!”
Even if your dorm doesn’t require you to have a roommate contract, it may be a good idea to come up with one anyways to ensure that everyone is clear on the dos and don’ts for the year. Although you might not find the Monica to your Rachel, you will at least be able to get through the year with your roommate on civil terms.
Fear #3: I won’t make any new friends
It is more than likely that all the members of your squad are not going to the same college as you – and that’s okay! Does Taylor Swift go on tour alone just because her bestie Selena Gomez is busy? No! She simply adds more new friends to her epic girl squad, and you can too.
While the people that you meet next door or in your first class aren’t the people that you have known for years, college is the time to make new memories! No one can replace your home BFFs, but your new college gal pals will make leaving home a little bit easier.
“I am very, very introverted and it takes me a long time to make friends,” says Sophia Walker, a senior at Bowdoin College. “It was especially intimidating freshman year because it felt like everyone else was making besties for life during the first week of school. What I’ve discovered is that even though it looks like everyone is making best friends right away, many of those friendships don’t last. Those wonderful collegiate friendships that people talk about happen over the course of several years, and you don’t always see them coming. Try out some new things, talk to people you wouldn’t have talked to otherwise. It took me a couple of years to find them, but now I’ve managed to create wonderful and close friendships with people all over campus partly because I spent my freshman year drifting between groups.”
Meeting new people may sound easier said than done, but just remember that a majority of the other freshman at your school are in the same boat as you. Don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation with someone on the first day of class or talk to someone who is sitting by themselves in the dining hall, they will more than likely be grateful to have a new friend as well.
Fear #4: I’m never going to be able to find my way around campus
Being in a new place can be made exponentially scarier when you have no clue where the heck you’re going. We’re sorry to tell you that there is no magical way to ensure that you won’t get a little turned around from time to time on your new campus, but there are ways to help the situation.
As a freshman, you are probably going to want to get to campus a little earlier than the upperclassmen. Take the time to explore before a bulk of the students arrive. If you have your class schedule, you can even ask your roommate if she wants to go on a class search with you. That way, you won’t have to wander around campus by yourself trying to find your psychology lecture hall.
“I would recommend to students who fear getting lost on campus to do a dry run,” says Madeline Frisk, a senior at Oregon State University. “Typically your move-in date is a few days before your first day of classes, so walk or take your bike with a copy of your schedule and test out your route. You might discover some short-cuts the map doesn’t show you or a cafe on campus you may want to check out!”
Also, be sure to check out your school website or a resident mentor for a map!
Fear #5: I won’t be able to handle the college-level coursework
It’s totally normal to be afraid of the college workload, but think about it this way: When you started high school didn’t you have the same fear? When starting anything new in life, it’s easy to doubt yourself and think that you can’t handle it. But, that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Some classes will challenge you in a different way than you’re used to, but over time you will adjust and be able to successfully finish your work to the best of your ability (just like you did in high school).
Even though you’re in college, you’re still not expected to know everything. If you’re having trouble with a class, you can go to a professor’s office hours, join a study group, or even get a tutor. You should never be afraid to ask for help when it comes to your academics because everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses.
Fear #6: My SO and I won’t be able to handle the distance
Clearly, guys like Noah Calhoun aren’t scared of taking on long distance relationships (he did write Allie a letter every day for a year – that takes commitment!), but how do you deal when you’re not sure if you and your SO can handle the distance? Well, you have two main options you can a.) decide to end the relationship or b.) decide to take on a LDR. Neither option is easy, but it’s a common decision of post-high school life.
If you decide to stay in a relationship, there are definitely ways of keeping the love alive. You can make it work if you are both willing to put in the effort.
A common fear of collegiettes in long- distance relationships going into freshman year is that the distance will be too much with all the new things that the both of you will have going on. If that is the case and you do decide to break up, it’s not the end of the world.
“I actually started college with a SO and while it’s nice to have that support and someone familiar around, I found that he took up a lot of my time,” says Christiana Sallard. “I ended up spending many of my free weekends with just him instead of putting myself out there and getting to know people on campus early on. So if you do have a SO, my advice would be to balance your time, and if you don’t, don’t sweat it! Get out there, meet some people, and build your own support network of friends and family that you know will be there for you!
Whether you start college in a relationship or single, remember that you are starting a new chapter in your life and don’t let anything, or anyone, stop you from experiencing everything that you can and living up to your potential!
Fear #7: What if I picked the wrong college?
It can be a scary feeling to walk to class on your first day of college, look around, and think that you chose the wrong school. Having that fear during your first few weeks, and even months, of college is totally normal. Between the homesickness and newness of everything, it is easy to feel out of place. When you have that feeling, it’s important to remind yourself why you chose your school in the first place. Did you fall in love with the school pride? Go see a football game. Did you think the campus was beautiful? Take a walk. Try to remember why you made the decision you did when you start to have feelings of doubt.
If the college that you’re at wasn’t necessarily your first choice, don’t judge a book by its cover. Even if you don’t think the school is for you, at least give it a chance. Attend a club call-out meeting, run for a student office, or go see a sporting event. You just might find something that you like after all.
“This is something that college students can struggle with all four years, so don’t feel bad!,” Sallard says. “Everything takes a little getting used to at first, so take a deep breath and see what happens when you give it a shot. Try talking to upperclassmen or professors to get a feel from the inside if your college is going to be the right fit for you in the long run. A lot of students actually don’t end up at the same school where they started, so you’re not alone!” It is important to give your college choice a try but if it’s ultimately not the right fit, don’t be afraid to make the decision that is right for you!
If you ever feel like your freshman year is too much to handle, just remember that it’s only one year of your overall college experience. It is a time for learning! Even upperclassmen don’t have their lives completed sorted out –– they’re just better at faking it. Enjoy your freshman year, collegiettes. We promise it’s not as scary as it seems!