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Nervous About Going to College? Maybe This Will Help.

About two years ago, I was a senior in high school who was anxiously awaiting graduation day. I was pretty sure that I had my future figured out; I knew what I wanted to do post college graduation and I was already planning the layout of my dorm. But I had a few problems that I didn’t realize were problems: I never did my homework, I had to be forced to study for tests, and I relied so heavily on my mom to do anything even remotely financial for me.


I know that there are so many high school seniors who, unlike me, are absolutely terrified to go to college because they don’t know what their own future holds. As someone who works at a very popular first-job retail chain, many of my colleagues are still in high school and are getting ready to step into the grown-up world, and I’m always bombarded with questions regarding my schooling. So, I went onto my Facebook page and asked my high school friends what they wanted to know about college. Here were the most-asked q’s:


What is the hardest thing about college?

This one isn’t an easy one to answer, especially because everyone has a different experience. For me, the hardest part was learning how to study efficiently. I’m absolutely terrible at memorization (cough cough: anatomy). I ended my first semester with a GPA of 3.00, but after spending more time with my nose in the books and learning how I study best, I ended my second semester with a 3.41.


Answers from the Her Campus writers:

Time management.”

“Figuring out your path.”

“Finding a school-life-work balance.”


What is your favorite thing about college?

Personally, my favorite part is the independence I have while I’m at school: I am free to go where I want, I don’t have to call anyone if I’m going to be home late, and I can bring anyone to the apartment without having to ask my mom (though, you should probably ask your roommate before you bring anyone home). In college, you make your own decisions and everyone, or almost everyone, treats you like the adult you are.


Answers from the Her Campus writers:

“Being surrounded by friends.”

“Being independent.”

“Feeling really accomplished when my balancing act pays off & I’m fulfilled through both academic hard work while also growing into who I’m supposed to be by relaxing and making memories with friends.”

“All the new adventures, experiences, choices, and freedoms.”


Why should someone be active in other campus groups outside of their major?

Big, big, BIG one! I always tell any of my high-school-aged friends to join clubs when school starts. Not only do you make a ton of friends, but you also get experience that looks great on your resume. Last year, I never stepped out of my shell and only had a few friends. This year, I joined two clubs and am a sister in a local sorority. I have many more friends than my freshman year, and I’m extremely happy.


Answers from the Her Campus writers:

“To meet new people and explore new interests.”

“You may find a new passion.”

“It helps them become well-rounded.”

“You meet so many people you would never meet in classes or just walking around campus. It’s a different kind of relationship/friendship when you meet people doing something you love.”


How do you make friends?

I made friends by getting myself out there. I joined a club where I could actively do my hobby (writing) while also being with a group, of course, who shared my interests. I also joined a sorority my sophomore year. I’m not the stereotypical skinny, blonde, b*tchy sorority girl, and neither are any of my sisters. I think the best experiences with making friends in college is stepping out of your comfort zone and joining clubs that you normally couldn’t envision yourself being a part of—that’s where I met the most genuine of people.


Answers from the Her Campus writers:

“Joining clubs.”

“Accepting that, especially coming into college, everyone’s in a pretty similar boat.. don’t be afraid to sit with new people and embrace your awesomeness—then other people can too!!”


Are classes mandatory?

Every professor has a different attendance policy. Usually in bigger lectures, attendance is not mandatory because they’re not going to sit and call out the names of 300 students. However, in smaller classes, they might implement a “two unexcused absences allowed” policy before they start docking points, so just be careful how many classes you skip. You’re paying for college and, on average, you’re wasting $20-$60 for every class you do not attend. As I mentioned above, gaining independence is a great pro of college; however, it is your responsibility to get to class if you don’t want to deal with those bad grades.


What classes should I take [while still in high school] to prepare for college?

When I was a sophomore in high school, I took a finance class which helped a lot. You know those memes that complain about high school classes not teaching useful things like paying bills or balancing a checkbook? Joke’s on them, because I learned how to do both. A lot of my friends also took PSEO classes, so they were a lot more prepared when they actually became college students.


Answers from the Her Campus writers:

“Classes that teach you how to research.”

“Take some PSEO credits, maybe a writing class.”

“Real-world-skills application courses, classes that will challenge but also improve you.”


Are there any clubs I should join that can help with my major and to get more involved socially?

At least on my campus, there are clubs for every major that is offered. A lot of professors also hire tutors that hold study sessions, which is a great way for you to meet people that are taking the same classes as you.


Do you have any time management tips that I should utilize before going to college?

Try to stay organized with due dates and start everything early.”

“Wait to get a job before you come, then start looking once you’re comfortable.”

“Even though it’s a drag, do homework very soon after it’s assigned because the more time you put up front working/studying, the better it’ll feel to have down time w/ less stress.”

“Make time for yourself, friends, classes, and homework. It is all equally so important.”


Do your teachers let you have snacks in class?

Uh, yes. Or, some do, anyway. But not all.


Are textbooks expensive?

It depends on how many you have and whether they are new or used. I always buy my books used if they’re available and I’ve rented a couple, too. There are also a few websites that you can check out to buy your books for a cheaper price than your bookstore sells them.


But I didn’t stop there, I also asked my adult Facebook friends what they wished someone had told them when going into college. This is what they said:


“Be careful who you live with, get to know people before you sign a lease.”


“I took a lot of PSEO credits in high school. I wish I would’ve known how much harder it is to make friends because I am in all these upper level classes with people who have already been here for 3-4 years.”


“Look at Chegg or Amazon for textbooks.”


“Not everyone’s college experience is the same. Don’t compare yours to everyone else and feel like you have to have the same experience as everyone in the movies and on TV.”


“I wish I had known that it is okay to ask for help and that asking for help doesn’t make you weird or less smart. It shows you want to know more and you will continue to struggle unless you ask for help.”


“I think the biggest thing is to put yourself out there, that’s how you make friends. Everyone is going through new experiences and you shouldn’t be embarrassed to try new things. Also professors aren’t scary, and most of them are very understanding and willing to help.”


“We did a survey at University of St. Thomas [the university that she is attending] that asked juniors and seniors what they wish they would have known going into college. These topics were used in a panel discussion at freshman orientation. Some of the biggest themes were:

Making friends takes time. Don’t get caught up in having a group; instead, base relationships on values.

Not everyone is dating/having sex/drinking (we shared statistics about how many students choose not to).

1/4 college students have a mental illness, it doesn’t mean weakness.

Use the many resources college has to offer. Especially when you inevitably struggle.”


I wish I knew that college takes a different kind of preparedness. If you floated by in high school, then be prepared to put in a lot more work and effort. Also don’t try to do everything even if you think you can because there is wayyy too much to be able to do. Be open to try new things but find the few things that you love and work hard in that, and don’t stretch yourself too thin.”


“One small thing is that having a consistent sleep schedule is super important for overall health and productivity.”


“I wish I would’ve known how expensive the big picture was with like books and housing. Looking at numbers helps me understand how important everything is and how I could have saved money this year by living off-campus. Also wish I would’ve known how important it was to get a job my first year being in college so I could pay some of the expenses out-of-pocket instead of having to take out huge loans with ridiculous rates.”


So, to all of those high schoolers that are just starting to realize that their childhood is coming to an end, I hope this helps. College isn’t as scary as you might think. In fact, I thought college was a lot easier than my teachers in high school said it would be.


Just take a deep breath, close your eyes, and relax. Everything will be fine. You’ll do amazing.



Allie is a senior at Winona State, majoring in Social Work and minoring in Child Advocacy Studies. If a professional were to ask her what her goals in life were, she'd probably tell them that she wants to work in a high school helping teens. However, her less-professional goals are to own a Tesla and to shop exclusively at Target and Ikea. In her free time, Allie can usually be found scrolling through TikTok and fighting social injustices, both of which are known to make her late to work.
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