5 Things I Wish I Knew More About Before Becoming A College Student

5 Things I Wish I Knew More About Before Becoming A College Student

"Homesickness is okay and absolutely normal."

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I'm here to be honest and transparent about my time at Ole Miss so far. College is a huge, scary thing for some people. It'll be the best/worst four (or more) years of your life. I've only been here about two full months, and I have already formulated a long list of things I wish I knew or should have done, and I'll be sharing a few of those in this article.

Disclaimer: These statements are made from personal experiences and do not account for every single person.

1. Homesickness is okay and absolutely normal

Having lived at a residential high school for two years, I thought I was prepared to be away from home, three hours to be exact. However, I immediately discovered I was absolutely wrong. I spent my first week crying almost every night and telling my mom I didn't want to be here. Sometimes I still feel that sense of longing to return home and never come back. Everyone around me seems so happy and satisfied with being at Ole Miss, even people from the other side of the country. I had to learn that everyone is different, and homesickness is absolutely okay and normal. Don't be too prideful to discuss it with your parents and close friends; you can even talk to your advisers about it. College campuses offer so many resources for emotional support. It's your choice to utilize them.

2. Be productive with your free time 

My high school began classes at 8 a.m. and didn't finish until 5 p.m. Even after the school day was over, you still had club meetings, practices, and rehearsals. Sleep was the only amount of free time you had. "College isn't hard. Girl, you're going to have so much free time to get assignments done." This was the saying you heard from all the past graduates of MSA... It was all a scam. At least for me, it was. All that freedom means nothing if you aren't managing it efficiently. If you're like me and you spend over four hours binging Netflix shows every day, you're definitely not putting your free time to good use. Productivity is a very important concept in college and life. Make schedules, create reminders, or set alarms. We literally have our phones stuck to our faces 75% of the day. Why not use them in a productive way? Creating a schedule that works may come easily to some people and the complete opposite for others. Reach out to your professors, upperclassmen friends, or research ways to maximize your time.

3. The dark hole

No matter how many throw pillows and Pinterest quotes we hang on our dorm walls to make it feel like home, sometimes it still feels like you're trapped inside a small rectangular room. For me, this aspect tied with feeling homesick. Most of us want to isolate ourselves when we're feeling down. However, in the end, it just makes things worse. Find a group, go outside and acknowledge your surroundings, or take a run/walk. Ole Miss is a beautiful campus that deserves to be admired.

4. The Tinder myth 

You know those friends who say join Tinder; it'll be fun. Yeah, don't listen to them. In my case, Tinder is not the perfect platform to look for friends or nice guys/girls to hang out with. The stigma (hookup app) is true. Of course, this doesn't apply to every single person. I know some people who have found great friends or partners from the app. Swiping left or right can somewhat become addictive. You know it's a problem when you run out of likes and accidentally spend $83 for more. Don't be like me. Instead of joining Tinder or Bumble or any other social network, try going out and meeting new people face to face. Get to know someone and learn their interests and hobbies. Join a study group or student organization; these are great places to meet new people.

5. Call your family

This is one of the most crucial points for me. I've always behaved as an independent person. Even though I was battling homesickness, I still didn't call my mom everyday. Sometimes days would go by, and she'd finally call and give me a piece of her mind. Our loved ones care about us. Your family worries about your well-being. The least we can do is give them a call or even a quick text. Sometimes, I still fail at consistently contacting my mother and other family members. However, I try my best to give her updates on what's going on in my life. You will need a support group in college. Family is one of the best groups of people you can have cheering you on and uplifting you on the bad days. They're the ones who stick around.

College can be extremely difficult: emotionally, physically, and academically. We just have to remember our purpose and the end goal. It's okay to have fun, and it's okay to be homesick or on Tinder. Every experience is different. It's up to us how we manage our time, emotions, and health. Just remember the people back home who are cheering for you, the resources available to you on campus, and why you're here.

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Please Spare Me From The Three Months Of Summer Break When People Revert Back To High Schoolers

They look forward to swapping stories with their friends at the local diner, walking around their old high school with a weird sense of superiority, and reminiscing their pre-college lives.

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I know a surprising amount of people who actually couldn't wait to go home for the summer. They look forward to swapping stories with their friends at the local diner, walking around their old high school with a weird sense of superiority, and reminiscing their pre-college lives.

Me? Not so much. I don't mean to sound bitter. It's probably really comforting to return to a town where everyone knows your name, where your younger friends want you around to do their prom makeup, and where you can walk through Target without hiding in the deodorant aisle. But because I did this really annoying thing where my personality didn't really develop and my social anxiety didn't really loosen its grip on me until college, I have a very limited number of people to return to.

If you asked someone from my high school about Julia Bond, they would probably describe her as shy, studious, and uptight. I distinctly remember being afraid of people who JUULed (did you get high from it? was it illegal? could I secondhand smoke it and get lung cancer?) and crying over Algebra 1 in study hall (because nothing says fun and friendly like mascara steaks and furious scribbling in the back corner while everyone else throws paper airplanes and plays PubG Mobile).

I like to tell my college friends that if I met High School Julia, I would beat her up. I would like to think I could, even though I go to the gym now a third of the time I did then. It's not that it was High School Julia's fault that she closed herself off to everyone. She had a crippling fear of getting a B and an even worse fear of other people. But because she was so introverted and scared, College Julia has nothing to do but re-watch "The Office" for the 23rd time when she comes back.

Part of me is jealous of the people who came into their own before college. I see pictures of the same big friend groups I envied from a distance in high school, all their smiling faces at each other's college football games and pool parties and beach trips, and it makes me sad that I missed out on so many friendships because I was too scared to put myself out there. That part of me really, really wishes I had done things differently.

But a bigger, more confident part of me is really glad I had that experience. Foremost, everything I've gone through has shaped me. I mean, I hid in the freaking bathroom during lunch for the first two weeks of my freshman year of high school. I never got up to sharpen my pencil because I was scared people would talk about me. I couldn't even eat in front of people because I was so overwhelmingly self-conscious. I remember getting so sick at cross country practice because I ran four or five miles on an empty stomach.

Now, I look back and cringe at the ridiculousness because I've grown so much since then. Sure, I still have my quirks and I'm sure a year from now I'll write an article about what a weirdo Freshman Julia was. But I can tell who had the same experience as me. I can tell who was lonely in high school because they talk to the kids on my floor that study by themselves. I can tell who was afraid of speaking up because they listen so well. I can tell who was without a friend group because they stand by me when others don't. I can tell who hated high school, because it's obvious that they've never been as happy as they are now.

My dislike for high school, while inconvenient for this summer, might be one of the best things to happen to me. I learned how to overcome my fears, how to be independent, and how to make myself happy. I never belonged in high school, and that's why I will never take for granted where I belong here at Rutgers.

So maybe I don't have any prom pictures with a bunch of colorful dresses in a row, and maybe I didn't go to as many football games as I should have. Maybe I would've liked pep rallies, and maybe I missed out on senior week at the beach. But if I had experienced high school differently, I wouldn't be who I am today.

I wouldn't pinch myself daily because I still can't believe how lucky I am to have the friends that I do.

I wouldn't smile so hard every time I come back from class and hear my floormates calling me from the lounge.

I wouldn't well up when my roommate leaves Famous Amos cookies on my desk before a midterm, or know how to help the girl having a panic attack next to me before a final, or hear my mom tell my dad she's never seen me this happy before.

If I had loved high school, I wouldn't realize how amazing I have it in college. So amazing, in fact, that I never want to go home.

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10 Tips To Prepare For Your Freshman Year Of College

Tips and tricks for college freshman year.

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Obviously, I am not an expert on college life yet, being that I am only a high school senior. Barely hanging on these last couple weeks of school. I have been preparing for my freshman year of college since the start of my senior year. It is an overwhelming, stressful process and it takes a lot of preparation and time to get it all done. I wanted to give some tips and advice on how I started my process and how I have gotten through it. Starting a new chapter can be really scary, especially if you have no idea what you are doing, I am the oldest sibling in my family, and I am the first to go through this crazy process called college. Though I was uncertain exactly what I needed to do and how to do it, I figured it out and here's how I did it.

1. Have a planner

This is going to be your best friend. It helps you keep your life organized (or at least it makes you feel like you do) and assures you that you meet deadlines. Since I can remember I have always used a planner and it helps me so much. I wouldn't know what to do without it. I have all the dates for when things need to be turned in- like housing and such, and also I have up to when classes start next fall. A planner is so helpful and would recommend getting one if you don't have one already.

2. Talk to friends about their experience

This has honestly been one of the top life savors. I have gotten so much advice from my friends that are in college and they give me the inside scoop and what to do and what not to do.

3. Do your research

Research the school, research clubs and activities that you may be interested in. Get familiar with what is on and off campus.

4. Visit the campus

Photo by Olivia Holler

I am lucky enough that I am only an hour and a half away from campus and it doesn't take long to get there so I just go when I feel like it. But visiting and being on campus several times defiantly has made me feel more comfortable and more at ease than I would be if I had not visited at all.

5. Embrace times with friends and family

Photo By Olivia Holler

This is the last summer with you In your house as a full time member. Embrace it! Be with your friends and family as much as you can. You are going to miss them just as much as you are going to miss them.

6. Start doing things on your own

I am already pretty independent but I struggled like starting to make my own dinners because I have been fortunate enough where my parent always took care of dinner. But now they are making me responsible for making my own dinner. Which was a really tough life altering thing for me. It may not seem like it but it was for me. But start doing your own laundry. making your own dinner, getting things yourself etc.

7. Make list

This and my planner have been my saving grace. If I didn't have it there was going to be no progress on the thing called college.

8. Manage your time

This is pretty self explanatory, there is a lot to do during the college process. Be sure not to procrastinate and know when things are due so you can get everything on time.

9. Take summer classes if needed

If you know you are going to be behind in a class, take some summer classes. For example, I am a little behind in math, and I have to take all the way up to college algebra in order to graduate college. Well, I knew I didn't want to take math all four years of college and I knew I was behind. So I am taking some summer courses to not only finish with math earlier but just to be ahead of the game.

10.  Gather everything you need for college!

Make sure you have everything you need for the big day. Set apart some days before move in day to take time and pack whatever you may need so you don't forget anything.

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