September 21, 2012 by Op-Ed
After the long, tiresome process of getting a good high school GPA, studying for the SATs, shortlisting the top colleges of your choice, and working on essays and applications, you have finally received an acceptance letter. Before you know it, it’s 10 days left until school starts, and the college dream is now a reality. But you’re nervous. Maybe even a little scared? Don’t worry; I assure you that you are not alone! I was sailing in the same boat as you last year with a million other incoming college freshmen, and I guarantee you, not much has changed.
Going to college for the first time is intimidating, and for some it can be downright scary. The first day is more than just attending a new class — it’s entering a whole new world. No one wants to be the new kid on campus! Here are a few guidelines to help you conquer the stereotypical college freshman fears:
1. “The freshman fifteen”: I am sure everyone has heard about the dreaded freshman fifteen. For those who haven’t, it’s the notion that college students gain 15 pounds in their first year of college. In some cases it is indeed true, reasons mostly being an increase in the intake of fast food, eating dinners of French fries and ice cream, and indulging in sugary and salty snacks to fuel late-night study sessions. The best way to beat weight gain is to prevent it altogether. Good habits like a balanced diet, regular exercise, and getting enough sleep can do more than keep the pounds off — they can also help you stay healthy and avoid problems down the line.
2. Financial debt: College is an expensive deal. Not everyone can afford to shell out a hundred thousand dollars. It is costly, your funds will be tight, and you may be borrowing money to make ends meet. Knowing how to manage your money is one of the best things you can do. Additionally, being aware of the specifics of your financial aid package and getting a good on-campus job are smart ways to be proactive about your finances.
3. Homesickness: You will indeed miss your friends and family back at home. Even if you’re not going far away to school, you’ll probably end up missing the time you used to spend with them. In addition, managing a long-distance relationship can be hard, but it doesn’t have to mean you can’t stay together. You can miss someone and still make it in college. There are also easy ways to keep in touch with your family like emailing them twice a week with updates on your progress with college life, and even though things will change when you get home, your friends and family will still be the crazy, lovable people who are proud of you and your accomplishments as a college student.
4. Afraid of meeting new people and making new friends: One thing to keep in mind is that mostly everyone there is new, and virtually no one knows anyone. Even the friendliest first-year college students know only a small handful of folks, at most, before arriving on campus. Because everyone is looking to meet other people (especially during orientation and your first week), take a deep breath and introduce yourself. Keep your eyes open. New friends are waiting to be made around every corner. Get involved. There is no better way to make new friends in college than by joining a study group, an intramural sports team or a special interest club. If you are living on campus and you happen to be in your residence hall room studying or watching TV, leave the door open. And lastly, just be yourself!
5. Clueless about picking your major: I’ve been there — choosing a major in college can be overwhelming! By being undeclared you’ll have more time to expand your interests and be open to new ideas and career choices. In addition, if you feel like you have picked the wrong major and would like to explore other options, college gives you the freedom to do that! Some factors to consider when selecting a college major include: What type of career can you see yourself in? What type of work do you enjoy? What are your interests? The answers to these questions can help guide your selection of a college major. Lastly, do your research, keep an open mind, and be honest with yourself, and you can choose a college major that will steer you down the path to success!
Alisha Zaveri is majoring in communications and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.