The truth is that there are so many things no one tells you about the first year of college. From your math teacher who didn’t tell you that soon you’ll be solving equations online and getting every part of it correct is the only way to move on, to realizing that doing laundry once a week is more of a priority than an option. Teachers and graduates tell you of the amazing times they have and the life changing friends they meet but one thing is always left out: mental health. You may see the signs in your siblings or friends, but it never occurs that it may be you the following year. Here are some truths I’ve realized in my first month of college.
Talking to your friends during their freshman year at college as you sit in your senior year of high school, listening to them sympathetically as they say they’re struggling to meet new people, you think “Hell, that’s not going to be me. There are endless opportunities to meet new people.” While that thought is not incorrect, it also appears a lot easier on the surface than it may be for you in reality. I believe it depends on two things. First, your definition of what a friend is. Is a friend someone to wave at in the hall and study with once a week for your math class? Or does a friendship go deeper than that for you, someone to confide in when you secretly are missing things about home. Second, your personality type. If you’re more reserved and the type of person to enjoy the intimate company of few versus the presence of many, the beginning of college may be a difficult transition.
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While the logical order of this article would be to give advice to join clubs, put yourself out there, be patient, and have faith, that’s not what I feel needs to be addressed. The piece of college life that society fails to prepare students for are the emotional challenges they will face as incoming freshmen. If one values meaningful relationships or has a shy personality where reaching out to talk to someone isn’t what they do, then coming into college life with no friends can be detrimental to their mental health. The abundance of new things freshmen need to process and adjust to could be sitting alone in their brain because they haven’t, for whatever reason, met people they feel they can truly connect to yet. Not being able to get things off their chest about their new way of life can make the adjustment to college life even harder and potentially steer them away from wanting to continue their education. Students need to be aware of all the challenges that are coming their way when they begin their college education, not just the academic ones. As mental health awareness is growing, the transition to college life should be a part of it. No one is alone in feeling alone, especially freshman year. I believe educating students on the emotional barriers they may potentially face their freshman year before they even step on campus can help them better prepare for and adjust to, the amazing college experience they have ahead of them.
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