College is an exciting time for any freshly turned adult wanting to continue their education and experience freedom away from their homes. However, the first year of college may not be nearly as seamless as many students expect or hope for. There are many great experiences you’ll get out of your first year– but also many experiences that you might not be at all prepared for. Here are some obstacles many freshmen face their first year, and steps you can take to overcome them.
As prepared as I felt to travel across the country and start a new life at college, the second my parents dropped me off and drove away, the homesickness hit hard. I assumed I was the only one– everybody else seemed to be having a great time making new friends and moving on. I wish I had known that several other people felt the same way. Later on in the year, when I had made more friends, I understood that I wasn’t alone in my yearning to be back home, even though there were aspects of college I enjoyed. Keep in mind, this is probably most people’s first time being away from home; it’s only natural to feel the withdrawals.
Finding friends can also be a challenge. It took me plenty of time to meet people who I was compatible with, and other people I know claim to have switched friend groups three or four times throughout the year. I could tell you to join clubs, to get out and talk to people, but being completely honest, that doesn’t guarantee the friendships you may be looking for– especially if you’re as introverted as me. Most of my closest friendships were ones I stumbled onto by accident when I was trying my least to put in any effort. Remember, although other people look like they’ve got everything figured out, most of them are just as lost as you probably feel. It’s all a learning process for everyone, so don’t overthink it– you aren’t alone in your loneliness, and as you start meeting more people, this fact will become even more apparent.
Now, besides the purely emotional and social problems you might face, there’s also the main reason you’re at college; to pass classes and graduate on time. Grades are a tricky thing at Whitman. While you might be used to keeping up with your grades every day back in high school, here, professors don’t upload your grades every day. They don’t even upload it occasionally! My first semester of college, I didn’t know what my actual grades were until my transcript came out. Needless to say, I definitely overestimated my academic skills. Second semester, I was smart enough to check up with my teachers to make sure my grades stayed right where I wanted them. Thankfully, they were nice enough to keep me updated to the best of their ability; I highly recommend speaking with your professors and making sure that your grades aren’t a surprise when they get released at the end of the semester. It’s also beneficial if you want a chance to get to know them and vice versa, especially if you plan on getting letters of recommendations later on as you apply for internships and other programs.
The first year of college may be the best and the worst year of your life but it only comes around once in your lifetime. Although it can be hard, keep your head up! It may take time, but the bumps in the road out eventually.