If we’re being honest, moving away for your first year of college is a tiny bit terrifying. Not to mention lonely, overwhelming, stressful—and what can make it worse is an overly glorified idea of what your first few months away from home will be like. Whether you imagine yourself being best friends for life with your roommate, or the only one in your class to get an A on the first paper, or feeling completely welcome and at-ease at all of the parties—somewhere along the way you will be disappointed. Nothing can ensure that that first semester is the best three and a half months of your life. But managing your expectations about your freshman year of college can help you make the best of a transitional period. Everyone likes to tell you what you can expect from your college wonder-years. But I’d like to tell you what you shouldn’t expect. While any of the following may be true for you, you shouldn’t spend one moment feeling crushed if they aren’t.
You'll likely spend time with a lot of different people in your first few weeks of school. Don't worry about whether these will end up being your lifelong friends. Relax and enjoy meeting new people. Eventually you'll fall into a routine with friends you feel comfortable with. But this may take a while.
Your college is likely to be larger than your high school. There will be better athletes, test-takers, artists, musicians—whatever—than you. I think looking at college as an experience rather than a competition is a much healthier and productive mindset.
It's okay to not be the best. I really do believe that failing is the best way to grow and learn.
You won't. It's just not going to happen.
You’ll probably spend a lot of time wandering around town, looking for 249 Oak Street with a group of kids whose names you keep forgetting.
For many people, it takes a while to feel comfortable in their new environment and to really start to enjoy what their campus has to offer. It's okay to feel lonely, uncomfortable, uncertain, homesick, or any other range of bad feelings while you're acclimating to your surroundings.
Here’s the point: don't expect college to be anything. Accept the fact that it won't be exactly as you've been imagining, and that your first year may not be the time of your life.
The more relaxed and easy-going you are about the experience of beginning college, the likelier you are to enjoy it, regardless of how it holds up to your (likely lofty) expectations.
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