It’s March now and we all know what that means: warmer air, March madness, spring break…and the time when many high school seniors are wrapping up the college application process and are finalizing their decisions.
You’ll go through a wide variety of different experiences and emotions during the coming months. You’re entering uncharted waters, after all!
Congrats, grad! You walked across that stage to receive your high school diploma. Though the memory of the graduation ceremony itself will be tinted with all the boredom you felt during it, as well as the two- or three-minute adrenaline rush when you stepped up to shake hands with various school bigwigs and snatch the diploma you so rightfully earned, you’ll feel on that day like your life is beginning.
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Regardless of your actual level of nostalgia for the past and hope for the future, this will feel like a very special moment.
Prepare yourself to be invited to scores of graduation parties and brace yourself to meet tens of your friends’ relatives. Remember that although your college-bound friends may all be headed for different corners of the world, you’re still going through the same experience.
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Since you’re all done with your resume-building volunteering, summer will be a great time to earn extra money for school through a summer job or scholarship applications. If you’re starting to feel overwhelmed by the nervousness that so many future college students experience, try to stay busy with work or spending time with loved ones!
This is also the time when many schools have orientation days where you can register for classes, learn more about your program and meet professors and get answers to any of your lingering questions. That will help ease the transition and help you tie up loose ends.
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The reality of the upcoming transition will begin to start sinking in at about this time and you’ll begin to feel excited and nervous.
You’ll need to begin collecting all the dorm room accouterments in the middle of the summer. Pay close attention to ways to save space and see if you can learn about the layout of your future room from your school’s web site.
I began to feel most stressed about six weeks before leaving for school. It would hit me in a wave every so often and I would feel nearly paralyzed with nerves. I tried to stay in the moment as much as I possibly could while also completing my necessary pre-college errands.
Some schools have first-year students move in a few days to a week before classes start so they can get accustomed to living on campus and make a few friends before being hit by the stresses of classwork and the arrival of thousands of older, more experienced students.
You’ll likely have to play silly get-to-know-you games during orientation week, but if you embrace the silliness and try to be yourself, you’ll feel more at ease.
Remember that it is 100% normal to feel homesick, wish you could transfer or even drop out during the first few weeks of college. Do your best to hang in there and make sure you don’t bury those feelings: talk to your parents, siblings, or friends from home and find someone else who’s in the same situation. Even let yourself cry!
I hope that, about a month in, you’ll have your sea legs when it comes to college and are ready to Remember that you can always go to the counseling center at your school, or even one off-campus, if you’re having difficulty functioning (for example, struggling to get out of bed) or if you feel overwhelmed with anxiety or sadness much of the time.
This is your journey and it won’t be identical to mine, but the more you try to prepare yourself beforehand, the smoother your transition to college life will be.