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I am sure every high school and college student has heard something along the lines of, “people change when they get to college,” spoken by an encouraging friend or perhaps a judgmental family member. Does this phrase make you feel excited? Defensive? Intrigued? Worried? It is perfectly okay if you said yes to any of the above, but here is a little prophecy for your future: people really do change when they get to college.

It is normal to be excited by the prospect of becoming someone you have not met yet. You will meet a lot of new people with a lot of different backgrounds and a lot of things to say. You will experience things you have never experienced before and be in an environment totally new to you. If you are someone who is intrigued by the prospect of discovering new interests or being introduced to entirely different ways of operating through life, I say to jump into college with an open heart and mind. College is a freeing place. You will be surrounded by young people just like yourself who are trying to figure out life at the same time that you are. That is a unique and fun experience that allows you not only growth in your maturity but growth in your confidence, interests, and ability to function in the world around you.

Some people might be thinking, “Hang on, I know exactly who I am and I am not going to let some institution change that! I am happy with who I am now.” That is okay too! It is not a bad thing to change in college, even if you are happy with who you are right now. These changes could be small – your confidence might get a boost, or you will discover you have an interest in a career path you had never previously considered. Feeling like you need to defend the person you are before college is absolutely valid, but you will change regardless of your happiness with yourself in the moment, because you are growing up. Entering college is the transitional period from dependence to independence, childhood to adulthood; and this transition occurs alongside thousands of other young people. It would be naive to think that you will not change in this environment. So do not worry about losing yourself or becoming someone you are not, because if you are confident in who you are before college, that person is likely to stick around and grow.

Changing in college is also not a bandwagon. Some people might scoff at how vastly some young people change throughout their college experience, but it is silly not to expect character development. What we have to remember is that an 18-year-old and a 22-year-old are going to be two very different people regardless of whether they attend college or not. It is unrealistic to think that the teenager who graduated highschool is going to be the exact same person four years later. So do not feel like you are falling into a trend if you want to feel out different styles or ideas or interests. You are growing in the way anyone would and should expect you to grow.

So yes, college does change you, and the important thing to remember is that it is NORMAL. Do not let anyone shame you for the person you became or are becoming while you grow. Growth is to be encouraged and celebrated, because given the space and opportunity, we have the capacity to become very unique and very cool people.

Originally from Columbia, Missouri, she is a undergraduate student at Saint Michael’s College in Vermont. She is currently studying English and Political Science and hoping to become a published author of fiction in the near future. In her free time she enjoys creative writing, knitting, listening to music, and spending time with her dogs, Ollie and Oshie!
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