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Experiences

I asked 3 College Freshman About the Transition into College, Here’s What They Said

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

The shift from high school to college is utterly terrifying, to say the least. As a current college freshman, it brought me peace of mind to discover that I was not the only one struggling with this major life change. As a result, I sought out to interview three first-year college students about their transition into college and found three significant overlaps in their experiences; academics, social life, and homesickness. Hopefully reading about their experiences will bring you some peace of mind as well.

Academics

While interviewing Danny, a Business Administration major, he spoke about the difference between high school and college workloads. He explained, “The workload is not as much as I thought it would be, although I am just taking general education courses right now. What takes up my time is studying. Studying a lot in college is a must; you can’t study the night before the test and get an A. You have to study weeks in advance and consistently leading up to exams.”

Danny shared a similar experience with college freshmen Cleo and Reese, who also agreed studying is vital. The recommended studying time per week is about 25 hours, which all three students agree is about right. In addition to studying, Cleo shared her experience with professors and classes. She states, “In big lectures, there’s less one-on-one teacher time than in smaller classes or high school. Going to office hours and study groups seemed intimidating initially, but they ended up helping a lot.” 

After asking what advice Reese would give to incoming first-year students or those transitioning into college, she says, “The workload is pretty manageable as long as you stay on top of your work. Especially with the quarter system, you cannot fall behind. Set strict deadlines for yourself and put all your assignment due dates in a calendar.” 

Overall, the academics, compared to high school, are more challenging, as to be expected. Being strict with your studying time is crucial, as is staying on top of your assignments. These students state it’s intimidating at first, but they have confidence in their abilities and yours!

Social Life

It’s easy to get swept away in the social outings and activities of the college, but it’s also easy to find comfort in your dorm. When asked about their social life, the interviewees shared their experiences. Danny claims to be “pretty nervous being in a new environment with new people, especially when I went random when choosing roommates. However, college is a fresh start. You can be yourself and make new friends that enjoy the real you.” 

He finds that playing sports brings him to meet people who share his interests. However, he still finds himself in the comfort of his dorm often. It’s nerve-wracking putting yourself out there, especially as an introvert.

On the contrary, Cleo and Reese share different experiences. Cleo was nervous and worried about meeting new people and trying to make friends. She admits to feeling lonely at first but also states, “I actually met many great people. Although the academic aspect of school is emotionally draining, hanging out with friends takes my mind off things and is always a good time.” 

When asked to share some advice on this topic, Cleo said to join many clubs and activities to find like-minded people and talk to people in your classes early on in the term. Knowing people in your classes helps to create study groups, grab lunch after class, make plans, etc. Reese added to this point and stated, “Even though you hear it often, join lots of clubs (both academic and extracurricular). You’ll meet many people and have a fun way to get out and take a break from studying and doing work.”

Homesickness

Homesickness is inevitable. Everyone feels sad about missing a loved one, a pet, or even the familiarity of their old town and home. Some students feel more homesick than others, and it’s okay wherever you land on that spectrum. Reese explains how she “thought it would be horrible and difficult to settle in. In reality, I didn’t have complete homesickness. There are moments where I miss my home, my family, and my friends, but school and clubs keep me busy and happy.” 

Cleo has a similar experience but finds that calling home now and then helps with homesickness. In addition, Cleo says that hanging out with friends and staying busy helps keep homesickness away. Danny also says, “I would feel homesick often, but physical activity helps get my mind off things. I often call my family to check in on them as well.” 

He also offers a crucial piece of advice – get enough sleep. Sleep is so essential, and Danny emphasizes that you have to prioritize sleep. This helps him from feeling tired and ill, which often accompanies his homesickness.

Be Patient!

It can take some time to adjust and transition into college. It can take students more than a quarter or semester to feel comfortable in their new home. Students may need a whole year (or even longer) to feel at ease living away from home, get used to college classes, meet new people, and become accustomed to the new independence that college brings. I hope this article brings you peace of mind, and don’t forget – everyone is in the same boat, you’re not alone in this process, and it will take time.

Pseudonyms have been assigned for the interviewees.

Valerie Medina

Cal Poly '26

Valerie Medina is currently studying at California Polytechnic State University - San Luis Obispo as a first-year Business Administration major. She serves as an editorial writer for Cal Poly’s chapter of Her Campus. Her other passions include traveling, listening to music, creating new memories, and spending time with her dog Luna.