Coming out of high school, I was so naive to think my anxiety would go down once I entered college. I thought that because I would have the opportunity to create my own schedule and take classes I would actually enjoy, I would have it just a little easier.
I couldn't have been more wrong.
Going into college I was thrown into even more anxiety than I could ever imagine. Here are a few things I went through, and what I did to mitigate my anxieties:
If you thought forming groups in class made you anxious, networking is so much worse. As a business student, I've had to attend plenty of career fairs and other networking events. I'm also super awkward which doesn't help, and something about trying to sell yourself has always made me anxious. Networking, however, is so incredibly valuable!
One of my biggest college regrets is not taking advantage of networking enough. Yes, it's really incredibly nerve-racking if you have social anxiety like I do, but you get to meet some of the most incredible people. Networking also helps you discover new opportunities and helps you get your foot in the door. However, There are wrong ways to network though. For instance, my brother was on Tinder one day and a girl straight up asked him to help get her a research position at his lab. Don't be like her. Definitely, try to be genuine and thoughtful with each interaction and show that you are willing to listen. Also, don't feel pressured to share your life story! If you still don't like networking bring a friend since having someone you're comfortable with already will help you to relax.
Over these last 4 years, my family and I have struggled a lot with finances. During my senior year of high school, my dad lost his job and my mom started her chemo treatment making it harder for me to live my dream of going to a 4-year university. So instead, I started at a community college.
For some weird reason, there is a stigma of going to community college that I still don't understand.
Even though I had to pay out of pocket at the time for a year's worth of classes it was still so much cheaper than attending a university. I would also go to my part-time job after or in-between classes and live at home to help with expenses. Once I transferred to the UW, I was surprised that for those who qualified for the Pell grant, their tuition would be waived. I mean I still had to pay for housing and still have about $20,000 in loans from living on campus for 2.5 years, but I could take as many classes as I wanted! If you're worried about finances please know there a ton of programs to help.
The financial aid office is a great resource to see where you're at, and what paperwork needs to be submitted in order to help you. There are also plenty of scholarships for basically everything from the program you want to do: sports, academics, your ethnic background, and more! So be sure to always ask and search your school's website! There are also programs like Seattle Education Access that pairs you with an advocate to help you with applying to college, financial aid help and connects you with resources for support with housing or immigration issues. Yes, finding the finances for getting a degree is stressful, but I assure you there is help for those who need it!
Getting into your major
I hate competition, and for something as serious as getting into a major to decide my career path, needless to say I was severely anxious. I honestly did not know how hard it was to get into your major until I saw my brother and his friends all get rejected from the biomedical engineering department. Unlike myself, my little brother was always in honors classes, always received really high scores on the SAT, and has been accepted into his top choice schools on his first try. I really thought he would make it into his dream major, but alas- he did not.
I was trying for UW's business program, which is notorious for rejection to all who dare to apply. Somehow, I was accepted into the class of 2018 along with 200 (ish) other people with a less than 20% acceptance rate. While I'm pretty sure this was just luck since my grades weren't too great, I was fortunate that the University of Washington accepted transfer students as 1st priority. My personal statement also outlined how overcoming adversity will really help me excel and push myself in the program.
Pro tip: majors want to see you have a growth mindset, even if you don't have the perfect grades. I also asked advice from my counselors and other students who were already in the program in addition to showing up to events the business school held. If you're a freshman worried about getting into your major, my top piece of advice would be to go to community college first. You save a ton of money and have great professors and classmates who will support you. This is something one of my counselors has always advised to new students too since you will get priority entrance into your school.
Even after graduating I am still anxious about meeting new people, being financially stable, and the worry of if I chose the right major or not. Hopefully, you now know that you're not alone on this journey, and there are always resources to help you out!