You've received your acceptance letters in the mail and you're insanely excited. No words can fully express how happy you feel. You just know that you're starting a new chapter in your life and you can't wait for it to begin. You should. There's so many opportunities that are in your reach and soon, you'll be studying in a field that you're passionate about (or that pays well).
Now that you've seen your future bright and shiny in front of you, even if you haven't decided what you want to do with your life, reality sets in. All of the bills that'll drain your parent's bank accounts, enrolling in your classes, hoping that your professors aren't terrible, figuring out where you're going to live, terrified that you'll have the WORST roommate in the history of roommates, and so much more. If you're anything like me, the only thing that makes all those things bearable is the fact that you'll finally be out of your parent's house and able to make your own decisions without their supervision. Although if you're not like me, you're probably terrified of leaving home. Wondering how homesick you'll be, how you'll function without your parents, if they're okay, if your pets are okay, or terrified because you came to the realization that you don't know how to do your own laundry.
No matter how you feel after the excitement settles and reality sets in, you have to know that it's all okay. You WILL pull through and you WILL figure it out. Everyone does. Some take longer than others and THAT IS OKAY. The important thing to remember is that you'll eventually get there, to a comfortable point, and soon you'll be telling future incoming freshmen the same thing.
I'm currently a junior, soon to be a senior. I experienced almost every single one of these things. After I had practically drown myself with tears of joy, just seeing the envelope I might add, reality set in. 'How much is this going to cost? How will I know what to to enroll in? Where am I going to live? Will my roommate be easy to get along with or will I want to choke her?' And SO many more. That's perfectly normal and it's okay. I've never really been a nervous or scared person, but I was terrified. I was comfortable where I was, but I knew for me to get my degree for my dream career, it was what I needed to do. I put on my game face and I recommend you do the same. Even if you're terrified, fake it till you make it.
First and foremost, tuition will cost A LOT. But the main thing to keep in mind is that regardless of the impending financial situation, your parents are SO proud and they'll do anything and everything for you. They'll always be in your corner, supporting you financially and emotionally. They've been doing that your entire life anyway, and the fact that you're going to college and furthering your education has them giddy with excitement. And if y'all are struggling anyway, they'll find a way to make it work- always. If your help happens to be necessary, just get a job on campus. They're super simple and flexible with your class schedule- they HAVE to be (and don't let an employer tell you otherwise).
Enrolling for classes is easy, whether you know your major or not. You'll be taking your prerequisite classes (Gen-Eds) anyway, so you don't need to know. There should be a list on your school's website informing you of the classes that EVERYONE has to take. Start there and you'll be fine. And professors? They're hit and miss. Normally there's professor reviews somewhere online, so just find those and that'll tell you (almost) everything you need to know.
Living situation? ON-CAMPUS HOUSING. Normally colleges require incoming freshmen to live on campus anyway, so there you go. If you don't take a college tour (like me), there should (hopefully) be pictures or 360 degree views of the dorms so you can make your decision accordingly. It's super simple. Cost could limit where you live because of your family's budget and that's okay. You'll only be there for a semester or two max, then you can move somewhere else. And roommates from hell? In my experience, it's best to contact your roommate beforehand. If you choose a dorm with someone already listed, hopefully they'll have something in their roommate bio. If they don't, social media is always the answer (just don't be creepy). "Hi I'm so-and-so and I'm your roommate! I just wanted to get to know you since we'll be living together" or something like that. Normally the response is pleasant, so no worries. Figure out who will buy what (if you're sharing), set rules for each other AHEAD OF TIME, and so on. That way, nothing is unpleasant during move-in and it won't be as awkward! If you don't contact them beforehand, all I have to say is.. good luck.
If you're excited to leave home and get away from your parents, more power to you. But if you're not, it'll be okay. Your parents will be okay, your pets will be okay. Although if you have a dog or any animal that fits in an aquarium, most colleges allow you to bring them. Dogs have to be certified therapy dogs though. Just get a note from your doctor for depression, anxiety, etc. and there shouldn't be a problem. And PLEASE give your roommate a fair warning. Most are okay with it but some aren't, so just don't take the risk and surprise them. EVERYONE experiences homesickness eventually. Whether it's your parents, the rest of your family, the area, your friends, whatever. It's okay. Everyone is only a phone call away. If you live close, take road-trips back home and pay surprise visits to people. They'll absolutely love it, I promise.
Laundry? You'll be fine. Hopefully you already know how to do it but if you don't, just ask your parent(s) to show you before you leave. They'll probably laugh or smile uncontrollably but that's only because they're happy; happy that you're growing up into a functioning, self-sufficient adult.
If you're worried about making friends, it's okay. There are tons of clubs and events to attend. You'll make friends. That's a 100% guarantee with life-time warranty. They say that friends that you make in college last a lifetime. If I could think of anyone that's a perfect example of that, it's my mom. Her and her college friends have stuck by each others' sides, regardless of distance, disagreements or whatever, for 30-40 years (taking into consideration age and college returns). Excluding college, I've known my oldest friend basically our entire lives- all the way back to the diaper days. We're both almost 21 years old. Trust me when I say you'll make friends and y'all will be closer than any of your high school friends. Take that to heart. I learned the hard way.
Aside from all of this, you need to have fun. Go to games, even if you don't like sports. The vibe and excitement is worth it. Go to college parties- you need to experience at least ONE good one. When you're old enough, go bar-hopping with your friends. Be active in something other than school. --But PLEASE do your assignments first or you'll probably forget OR be stressed out because you're rushing to finish it before the midnight deadline. Learn from my personal experience please.
The most important thing that you NEED to know is that you'll CONSTANTLY be stressed out, but it'll all be worth it in the end. Search on Instagram, or whatever, #ClassOf2019 and look for college students. By now, they're getting their caps and gowns and taking their senior pictures. Think ahead four or five years. Picture yourself in that cap and gown. You can do this. That WILL be you.