As I begin my sophomore year of college, I can’t help but thoughtfully reflect on all of the things that I learned and experienced in just one short year as a first-time college student. While thinking about where I was physically, mentally, and emotionally only one year ago, I realized that social media and pop culture greatly shaped my expectations of college life when I first came to school as a freshman. Over time, I learned that the reality of college is much different than the idealized version that I originally imagined. Therefore, in hopes of helping you start off your first semester with more appropriate expectations, I decided to debunk five common freshman year myths that continue to swirl around freshmen students. Hopefully, when you finish reading this article, you feel less nervous about some of the unknowns that this new chapter of your life will bring.
1. You Will only be homesick for the first few weeks.
Going away to college is a big transition so it’s pretty common to be homesick for the first few weeks as you adjust to an entirely new life away from the comforts of family and home. However, don’t be shocked or concerned if this feeling lasts for months or even strikes on any given day when you least expect it. This is something I learned through my own experience. Throughout my entire freshman year, I tended to feel the most homesick after any period of time at home, during any downtime, and when drifting off to sleep. I effectively coped by keeping busy with campus extracurriculars and by reaching out to friends for support. Essentially, staying busy allowed me to keep my mind off of all the things I missed at home. If you feel homesick at any time, just remember this is completely normal and homesickness can affect anyone of any age so you are not alone. If your feelings or actions worry you, please reach out to a resource on campus for support.
2. YOU need to party or will be an outcast.
No, college is not one continuous party consisting of beer pong, strobe lights, and a room packed with drunk students like the movies show. While parties like these do exist at colleges all across the country, there are plenty of other ways to socialize without feeling like an outcast or self-proclaimed “loser.” If partying does not interest you, watching a movie in a friend’s dorm, having lunch with a classmate, and playing board games in the common room are all other culturally-acceptable ways to form connections with your fellow students. After all, if you do not enjoy parties, how do you expect to meet people similar to you by attending them? I actually have found that the people who are most similar to me can be found in my classes. It’s important to keep in mind that while college does allow for socialization 24/7, you and everyone else must find their own social life/schoolwork balance. Therefore, do not be afraid to stay in for the night if you need to catch up on sleep or finish a research paper. You are never lame for putting your education or personal needs above socializing for a few hours. Just do you!
3. YOU Will either be best friends or enemies with your roommate.
Both extremes are rare. Roommates do not always become best friends for life. While some roommates do become the best of friends who share their deepest, darkest secrets with each other, this isn’t always the case. It also isn’t the case that most students end up with dire horror stories about an extremely loud, horribly messy, or awfully unfriendly roommate, as most colleges work hard to pair you with someone compatible. In reality, it’s actually pretty common for many students to have a roommate whom they simply coexist with. Your roommate may just be another body in the room while you sleep, and that is completely fine. As long as you two can live peacefully and respect each other’s space and privacy, you will be good.
4. You don’t always need to go to class to do well.
Yes, in college nobody is forcing you to attend class, as you have much more freedom. However, you should still attend class because many professors, especially at smaller schools, take attendance into account when finalizing your grade for the course. In addition, you are paying to acquire the information and skills that will help you succeed in your career and life so you might as well take full advantage of the opportunities that you are lucky enough to have. The more you go to class and participate, the better you will do on assignments and the stronger your connections with others will be. The bottom line is, while it might be tempting to skip the lectures with over two hundred students because you can get notes from a friend or look at the presentation online, you will only be hurting yourself in the long run.
5. You need to have your future all planned out.
Going into college, I remember stressing myself out because I felt like I had to have my entire life planned out, including the plan for my master’s degree and my exact occupation, all just because I was declaring a major. However, through personal experience I realized that life can bring you in directions that you never expected so please do not dwell over finalizing every detail regarding your future or worry if you do not have everything logically planned out yet. Also, don’t forget that one major can lead to many different job opportunities. I went into college so confident that I would become a high school English teacher after I graduated. Yet, after falling in love with working with middle schoolers during my freshman year internship, my future career interests expanded drastically. My advice would be to just find what you are most passionate about because this is ultimately what will make you “successful.” Also, remember that many things will be out of your control so you only have control over how you respond to these situations.