Welcome to College

28 Aug

“Another year in Tucson, another year at the University of Arizona” or something along those lines is what I said my first day back from summer break. You could say I’m pretty accustomed to college life at this point… I’m up for graduation this May, thinking about what life after college will hold for me. Time goes by faster than one thinks!

However, I, too, used to be a freshman. I, too, used to roam the university’s campus wondering were my classes were, what the quickest route to class was, or if I would ever get used to being so far away from home and all on my own. A student’s first year at university truly is so exciting. There’re new people EVERYWHERE and a newly found freedom, different to whatever freedom existed at home, that more than likely is foreign to the incoming freshman class. Of course, with all the excitement that college brings there are the nerves and the fear of the unknown that can sometimes blind-side an unsuspecting freshman. Add to that the more than possible chance of academic underpreparedness and finally, to top it all off: unrealistic expectations of what college is and should be. These are all things can absolutely take a freshman student by storm their first year on campus—no matter how ready they may feel.

Transitioning from home-life to a college campus for the first time can be as overwhelming as it is thrilling. Moving into a college dorm is such a milestone for young people (it means mom and dad won’t be there to breathe down their backs anymore). Even students who are living at home are likely traveling farther to school, have an irregular schedule, and a number of other changes that mean life is just different than it was before. But no matter how excited they are to start this new period in their lives, sometimes the switch from the familiar to the unfamiliar isn’t so smooth; it can be as simple as having to learn to use a washing machine to feeling a bit anxious about making new connections with people. This is typically when the down-our-back breathing parents’ tips and encouragement are very much missed and appreciated. The early months of college are a prime time to hear from friends and family! It’s always the people we love the most that can make a bad day a little more bearable or help with adulting responsibilities. Even there isn’t some huge problem in urgent need of a solution it really is nice to hear from family back home—it reminds us that we’re missed and loved by people who are important to us.

On top trying to adjust to their new surroundings, one of the wildest things that students realize when they first start classes at a university: this ain’t high school anymore. Academic underpreparedness is absolutely something that students, both new and experienced, can stumble upon. Some of us can even fall prey to it more than once! The thought of having to play catch-up on class material or realizing that you have very little of the tools necessary to be successful in the course is something straight out of a horror movie for most college students. Unfortunately, with the excitement of starting a new school year many students fail to get everything done before classes begin. A good piece of advice for parents in this case would be to give little reminders to their students about things like tutoring and office hours—just two of many resources that can help students stay on track with class material that they may not feel completely ready to take on. Moral support is a huge must in cases like these. Sometimes, knowing that one is underprepared for school can be a blow to one’s perception what they’re capable of accomplishing. Remind students that it’s okay to not always be on top the game in the beginning—what matters is that they put in the work to get where they need to be.

And lastly, after making the efforts to adjust well to campus and working hard to stay on top of class material there is always that sometimes unrealistic expectation of what college is supposed to be like that gets torn down after a couple of weeks in. American culture has created a grand image of what college is: parties, never-ending fun, the ultimate freeing experience. And of course maybe some class time and some studying here and there. To some extent, yes college is somewhat like that. Of course there are parties, absolutely it’s a freedom like none other, but it’s also tons of hard work and dedication to class. On the social end, unless they’re the person that sparks up a conversation with anyone and everyone, some students find that the majority of peers don’t always interact with one another as much as they’d like to. Basically, some may find that they’ve overestimated certain aspects of the college experience. The important thing is for them to understand that there’s nothing wrong that and that, even if that’s the case, the only way to make college enjoyable is to make the best of the time, experiences, and people that they come face-to-face with. And hopefully, if they do that they’ll find that, although not a scene straight out of a movie, college still really is a pretty awesome place to be.

The fact of the matter is college is a whirlwind of a new reality for freshmen. It takes time to adjust, it takes a lot of hard work to keep a handle on all of the new material being introduced, and through all of that they might find the legitimate college experience to differ from what they may have initially thought it to be when they moved into their dorms. They’ll figure things out eventually and they will be successful in the long run. Alternatively, parents may find that their relationships with their students will strengthen in the process. It’s important for students to have that support, even if it’s only over a phone call. The next four years will be huge in both students’ and parents’ lives—the best way to make the best of them is to work with each other, not against each other.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: