Freshmen: The college transition may be harder than you expected (and that’s OK)

I think everyone comes into their freshman year of college with high expectations. We go through high school looking forward to this experience that is made out to be “the best four years of our lives.” While college is an amazing place with endless opportunities, it can be tough to transition during the first semester. It sometimes seems like just as you feel like you’ve settled in, you realize there are still adjustments to be made. There may be some freshmen who feel acclimated to Brown already, but it’s important to know that most of our class is still figuring things out. 

Difficulty in transitioning can often make us feel down, and one factor that contributes to this is social media. Looking at Instagram and Snapchat makes it seem like everyone is having the best time of their lives, whether it be high school friends at another college, or even new friends you’ve made at Brown. It’s important to remember that people often only post their best moments on social media. An entire feed of other people’s best moments can make you feel sad, especially if you’re not having a great day. Try not to let posts bother you: be happy for your friends that are having a good time and know that you’ll have your own moments like these, even if they aren’t right now. Chances are, the people you follow are having a tough time with their college transition as well, but their social media posts rarely reflect that.

It’s totally normal to miss your high school friends. Although texts and FaceTime are never quite the same as in person interactions, we are lucky that we have these ways of keeping in touch and staying updated on our friends’ lives. Since we just got to school and started forming friendships, we can’t expect our new friendships to match those we had in high school. When you’re home over break, your high school friends will all have new friends from college, but it’s likely that nobody feels as close to their college friends yet as they do to their high school ones. Over time bonds will grow stronger, and we will feel as comfortable with our college friends as we do with our high school friends. For now, we just have to be patient. After all, we’re here for four years!

Along with missing old friends, many of us miss our families. This is tough, especially if you have a close relationship with your parents and/or siblings. Personally, I am extremely close with my mom, dad, and three older brothers, so being away from all of them for the first time has been difficult. Again, utilizing your phone is key when you’re missing your loved ones. A phone call, text, or FaceTime goes a long way, even if it is just a quick check-in. Sometimes hearing from someone can make you miss them more, but it is still much better than not talking to them at all. It feels good to know that your family is always there for you, even when you’re not home. These people can’t be replaced. Get excited to see them over the upcoming breaks!

A big part of the difficulty of transitioning can be finding a solid schedule for yourself. Schoolwork is obviously much more time consuming than it was in high school, and you have much more of a say in your daily routine. I imagine that we’ll have to find a new routine every semester, but the one piece of advice I can give is to prioritize yourself. You know what times are best for you to study, eat, sleep, workout or whatever else, so see how each thing best fits in with your class schedule. Don’t let other people’s choices influence yours (obviously still find time to see your friends throughout the day). If you put yourself first in determining your schedule, you’re likely to feel happier and healthier.

The college transition has certainly not been a walk in the park for me. I thought everything would come easily and things would work themselves out within the first week. I am currently on month three of college, and I am most definitely still figuring things out. Whenever I get worried about this, I remind myself that I really have not been here for that long, and there is so much time left for me to fully adjust to college life. This simple reminder is reassuring for me, and I hope it can be for you too. For now, keep doing your best and remember that things are only getting better with time!