After my first year in college, I realized some very important life truths that, while some may have hinted at, were things that I never even knew that I needed to learn. Here is a list of the seven major things that I feel are important to know and prepare for in college.
1. There is so much you have to do for yourself, other than your laundry.
Laundry became the least of my problems once I started living on my own. Having to schedule everything by myself was one of the biggest adjustments that I had to make. Classes, hanging out with friends, and staying healthy were all things that I had never had to juggle on my own, and suddenly no one was there to organize my responsibilities for me. You also have to start fighting for yourself for things that you deserve. Sometimes a simple email asking a question about a grade or extra credit can show initiative and can get you what you want without too much effort. Learning to follow through on small tasks like that took me a little while to learn, but has proven integral to maintaining good grades and relations with professors.
2. Drama in college can become very real, very fast.
High school drama is a thing of the past. In high school, if one person liked someone else, it was all over the school and everyone would invest themselves entirely into it; in college, however, problems that people tend to hear about are the ones that are the most harmful. Relationships become more adult, and the trivial drama tends to fall away, revealing meaningful growth opportunities taken advantage of, or missed. Problems that affect college freshmen become more real, as there are no adults around to help you solve them. Resourcefulness in that aspect becomes a sort of acquired skill, for better and for worse.
3. Even though some colleges are big, they can get really small.
Packing everyone that you went to high school with into the same building can make you feel absolutely trapped. Coming to college, personally, I wanted to maintain as many high school relationships as possible while still branching out and meeting new people. How was I supposed to do that when I only saw people that I already knew? This problem usually subsides after a couple of months, as people go out of their way to form new friendships and relationships. Staying instate made it harder to branch out past the hundreds of people who came to college from my area, but it was still possible to form friendships with people who weren't previously connected to me at all. It just took some time.
4. You’re going to miss home.
Especially during second semester, I found myself becoming homesick for my house, my dogs, and my family. It's intense when you're thrown into a shoebox and expected to live on your own, usually for the first time. Your house becomes less and less of a home as your new life develops, and suddenly neither the dorm nor your home really feels like your place anymore. It's really the people that you surround yourself with that will help you feel like you belong somewhere.
5. Your mindset is what is going to define your experience.
I know plenty of people who came into college intent on hating it. They did not go to the school that they had planned on, and were focused on having the worst time possible so that they could have a reason to transfer to the place that they had planned on going. Why make yourself miserable for ten months of your life? If you focus on being in the moment wherever you are, you are bound to be fulfilled, even if you don't get into where you thought you were supposed to go.
6. After living on your own for ten months, living at home for the summer is going to be hard.
I am bored. I have no schoolwork during the summer to attend to, and my job does not take up a huge part of my day. There is a longing to return to the life that I had been living this past semester, to get back to where I had more purpose and I was surrounded by the friends I had made in school. Once everyone moves back home, we are all scattered, far away from the people we had gotten used to living floors away from. Making the most of your time, either through a job, a study abroad, or summer school can help fill your time and make your summer worthwhile.
7. You’re going to find people who love you for who you are and not some other version of yourself, so keep it real.
This is probably the biggest thing I wish someone would have told me. Sometimes, when meeting new people, I feel the need to be a little fake with them, only because I want them to like me. What no one told me that I say now is that it doesn't matter if people in college dislike the real you, because it is so easy to find people who do. No matter who you are, there is definitely a crowd of people for you.