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Beginning College: From the Freshmen Perspective

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

            College has been on the horizon for me for as long as I can remember. I’ve always had big dreams of moving away from home, living with interesting new people, and learning more about the field I want to pursue a career in. Being a first-generation student, I didn’t really have anyone to answer all my “What if…” anxiety-filled questions about college before I got here. Now that I’ve officially been living on campus for two months, I thought I’d give a rundown of my experience, address some misconceptions about college, and overall provide some peace of mind for new and future college students.

            While these first two months have had its ups and downs, leaving me with a wide range of emotions, I’m overall happy and content with my experience so far. College has been both everything I expected it to be and absolutely nothing like I expected, and while I know that doesn’t sound possible, it’s the truth. Between living in a dorm, making new friends, and going to class, I’ve learned a lot about not only college, but myself, too. While I feel like I’ve learned plenty, I know there’s still a lot ahead of me, but for now I’ll share what I know.

Dorm Life and Living on Campus

            Living away from home for the first time is rather daunting, especially when it’s in a completely new town with a bunch of strangers who feel just as lost as you do. I know coming into college, the idea of dorm life freaked me out. Sharing personal space, almost never having alone time, and working around the schedules of others sounded absolutely horrible to me, as someone who greatly values their space and alone time.

            Sharing a room and personal space in general hasn’t been too bad so far, but I also got really lucky. I share a dorm with my childhood friend from back home whom I’ve known since I was three years old. So, we were quick to fall into a rhythm that fit us both and respected each other’s space. As for my suitemates, I’m so grateful to have them in my life. I was really worried about having to share a bathroom and common space with complete strangers, but all four of us bonded so quickly and we’re already making plans to live together again next school year. And it turns out, they had been sharing the same worries along with me, so it was nice to know I wasn’t alone and comforting to find close friends in the people I live with.

            I’ve gotten much more alone time than one would think sharing a room and suite with other people. For me, and the girls I live with, we’re all running on different class schedules, involved in different extracurriculars, and have friends outside of just each other. Once we learned each other’s schedules, things were pretty easy to navigate. I highly suggest having everyone write down their weekly schedule and putting it up in a shared space, that way there’s no confusion about who is where or doing what. There are occasionally days where we’re all on top of each other and can’t seem to catch a break, but most of the time we’re free to do our own thing and live the way we want. Overall, I think the key to dorm life and sharing a living space is open communication. Each person just needs to be honest and willing to compromise.

Making Friends

When I say that everyone is worried about making friends going into college, I mean EVERYONE. I haven’t met single person who hasn’t voiced their fear about making friends and fitting in at least once. We are all scared and that is okay! It’s a new environment, with new people, and new experiences. Anxiety is bound to creep in, but we’re all capable of pushing through it and making friends.

            The key is just to be open, which sounds like such a basic concept, but it’s true. Be open to starting conversations with new people. Be open to attending new events. Just be open to saying yes to new things. There have been people I haven’t necessarily gotten along with and events I haven’t enjoyed, but in general, I haven’t regretted trying anything new since I’ve been in college. I’ve learned more about my likes and dislikes by exploring all the opportunities that college has presented me with.

            The easiest way I’ve made friends since being on campus is just by talking to the people around me, whether it be those living in my hall or the people I sit next to in classes. Some people have just ended up being acquaintances or even people I’ve never talk to again, but some of them have become my closest friends here on campus. I’ve found its rather easy to bond with people because we’re all sharing a major life experience: the start of college. I have more in common with people that I never thought I’d even talk to let alone become close friends with.

            Being on campus, away from home and having to make new friends is scary but making an effort to find my people has been completely worth it. I don’t regret going out of my way to find friends, because I’ve bonded so strongly with these people, and they’ve become such an amazing support system as I’ve been navigating my way through my first semester of college. Without these people, college would have been a much more difficult experience than its been so far.

Classes

     The jump from high school classes to college level classes hasn’t been as drastic or overwhelming as high school teachers always make it out to be. It’s the same as moving up from one grade to another. Things are a bit harder, but nothing outrageous or unmanageable.

     The important things to note are to go to class, always be checking the syllabus, and find a class friend in each of your classes.

     Actually, showing up to class has honestly been really helpful, which seems self-explanatory, but I’ve been surprised by the amount of people who regularly skip classes. I feel like being present and listening to your professors is the most obvious and straight forward way to succeed in college, and so far, it’s worked for me. I can’t stress how important it is to have copies of the syllabus. They were never a big deal for me in high school, but in college they are my holy grail, with every bit of important information I could possibly need for my classes. So, I highly recommend having a printed copy of the syllabus for each class. Having an in-class friend in each class has been so helpful. They’re someone I’ve been able to get notes from if I’m absent, study with to reinforce class material and overall, just someone who supports me, and I support back in the classroom environment. It’s good to know I’m in that class with someone else and that we’re working together to succeed.

Misconceptions

The biggest misconception about college that I’ve been able to debunk in my time here is that college students know what they’re doing, where they want to go in life, and have it together in a general sense. It’s all a complete lie. Very few of us have any idea of what we’re doing or where we’re headed, especially as freshmen, and that’s alright. College is your place and opportunity to learn about oneself and find the answers to those questions. So no one should come to college expecting things to be perfect, because in all honesty, it’s a bumpy road, but one that I believe is worth it.

College as a whole

            College has been a much better experience for me so far than I had expected coming to it. I’ve been able to make close friends, successfully share a living space with other people, and gotten the hang of college classes. I made it out to be much worse in my head, when in reality, college is something anyone can succeed and thrive in if they just put their mind to it. It’s not some scary exclusive club, it’s a place where everyone can be comfortable and fit in.

My name is Allison and I'm a freshmen at Christopher Newport University. My plan is to major in Psychology and go on to be a Clinical Psychologist. I'm really into reading and writing, especially poetry for both.
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