Adjusting to College Life
By: Anna Krolikowski
It’s no secret that college is not anything like high school. The classes are timed differently, spaced differently, and most likely more challenging than what most high schools have to offer. The student population is also different – even if it’s the same size as high school was (which, for most students, it isn’t), most of the faces a first year student sees on campus are completely new.
Perhaps the biggest change, however, is that students aren’t returning home every night anymore. They have the newfound freedom to be where they want and do what they want without any parents telling them what to do. It’s an exciting thought, but the reality for most students is that this freedom comes with new responsibilities and homesickness.
The first few weeks of college are an adjustment, and though not many will admit it, it can be a difficult adjustment. Students are away from home, on their own, suddenly responsible for their own meals, doctor’s appointments, and laundry. Even for those who live nearby, parents aren’t nearly as accessible as they used to be.
For some, this is a quick, easy adjustment. For many, it’s a process. And while not all first year students want to look like that one kindergarten student everyone remembers crying on the first day of elementary school, many upperclassmen will gladly admit that they shed a tear or two when their parents left. Homesickness is natural, and luckily it will pass with time. For some, it takes only a few days. For others it can take a month, even more, to completely adjust. Even then, it’s normal to feel a pang of it from time to time.
Another terrifying adjustment for first years is scrambling to find new friends. While it’s easy enough to cling to the one or two people from high school who happen to be attending the same university, most first year students arrive on the first day knowing they’ll have to meet new people one way or another. The most popularly cited way to do this is to join clubs, get involved, and talk to people in class. Easier said than done, of course, but within a few weeks most students have at least established a group of people they see and talk to regularly.
This isn’t to say every student will meet their best friend by this time, but most students will be considerably more comfortable around the people they’re spending the majority of their time with.
And then, of course, there’s the final challenge of learning to live independently. This issue has become so prevalent among older teenagers and young adults that it’s taken on the term “adulting”, something almost all college students struggle with. From scheduling appointments to shopping for groceries to doing laundry, the simplest tasks suddenly become the most terrifying without parents giving their advice.
Luckily, it only takes one moldy container or strawberries or shrunken sweater to learn. While “adulting” is a challenge college students may face throughout their time at university, most students have the basic grasp of it by the end of their first semester.
Adjusting to college certainly isn’t easy, but this period also won’t last forever. It can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, but it’s important to remember that the point of college isn’t to cut students off completely.
Family and home are only a text message or phone call away, and winter break might just sneak up sooner than expected.