People tell you a lot when you’re applying to college, “College will be the best four years of your life,” “You’ll have an amazing time,” “You’ll meet the best people.” But no one seems to tell you about what happens when you actually have to go.
In my experience, this realization kicks in about three days before you’re scheduled to leave. All of a sudden, it dawns on you that college isn’t just something you can dream about from the comfort of your childhood home. It is very real and three days before you’re scheduled to leave that is nothing short of terrifying.
And yet, the whole summer beforehand, college is all you can think about. It’s an exciting and welcomed change, exacerbated by the flood of affirmation from every adult you encounter.
College is likely a major topic of conversation — and for good reason. For a lot of people, college is a defining moment of independence. It might be the first time you have been away from your friends and family for so long or the first time you feel that you can take charge of your individual interests.
Before you’re actually in it, college is largely defined by the amount of change that comes with it, so it makes sense that people are talking about it so much. But the constant thread of praise for the college experience can make you forget about the challenges of the overwhelming transition process.
Everyone was telling me how much fun I was going to have — which is great, but it also put me under a false impression of how quickly this “fun” should occur after move-in. I saw constant posts from my peers with the multitude of friends they seemed to already have and was surprised at how comfortable they appeared to be with this new, crazy situation.
I thought I was doing something wrong and that the transition was more difficult for me than anyone else. Based on the photos and the amazing stories people told me about their own college experiences, I felt alone, scared and confused.
I remember having a conversation with one of my new friends about how we haven’t made as many friends as we thought we would freshman year. Of course, this wasn’t true and the reality was that it just takes time to truly get to know someone, bond with them and feel consistently comfortable around them.
Even when you meet nice people, that feeling of loneliness doesn’t go away immediately, so don’t get discouraged when you don’t feel the way you think you should. Just like your entire life leading up to college, some days will be good and some days bad. One day I embarrassed myself in the Warren Towers dining hall by breaking the waffle maker and the next I was cracking up, having a good time in a random downtown coffee shop.
People tell you a lot of wonderful things about college and hopefully you’ll look back on your memories and feel the same. But, it takes time to adjust and it’s more than normal to feel alone or confused sometimes. So give yourself time — and a lot of it.
As exciting as college is supposed to be, don’t forget that it’s also can be hard. That comes with the newfound independence, and but it will make you stronger. You’re going to need that strength if you ever find yourself covered in Warren waffle mix, depriving hundreds of grumpy freshmen of their waffles.