You studied hard to get accepted into your dream college or university and now that you are finally on your way to a new stage of your life, you might feel anxious that you might not belong or fit anywhere once you arrive at your new school.
The first few weeks or months of college can be confusing and challenging as everything you experience is new. Dorms, classes, teachers, roommates, big campuses, parties – they can all put a toll on you and make you feel insecure. Introverts find it even more difficult to find a place of their own, especially outside classes.
If you find yourself all alone in the midst of this teenage chaos that is called college life, here are some easy ways to ensure you experience all the good stuff and make the most out of your college years.
Take classes that you enjoy
Regardless of what your parents or other adults in your life might think, college is not only about getting perfect scores. Education is important but your degree should reflect your choices and your personality, as opposed to a path that has been chosen for you by someone else.
Find the right balance between what you like and what you need in life, and pick classes that are the best of both worlds. Remember that just because one teacher is famous for his or her class, doesn’t mean you will be interested in the curricula.
Use the shopping period at the beginning of each term to make sure that the class interests you. It might be more work to attend a lot of classes for a few weeks, but it will allow you to pick and choose.
Meet new people
Making new friends is a difficult task for most freshmen, especially if they are introverts. Luckily, college is the best place in the world where you can find friends and potentially a love interest. According to studies, over 60% of the friendships that are made during college years will pass the test of time even decades after graduating.
Similar data shows that college is the most common place to find your future love interest that might result in marriage. So, where can you meet new people?
Joining a sorority or frat house are the most common places where you can find people. Science clubs, book clubs, and any other clubs are even a better place to find people who share your interests. Apart from that, look around – the campus is packed with thousands of students, most of them being as scared as you are. Don’t be afraid to say hi, ask for directions, or go uninvited to a party – these unexpected decisions can prove to be the best you took so far.
Volunteer work is another way to find shared interests. Colleges also offer sports at all skill levels, and you can also just be a fan and help to manage a team such an intermural or club team.
Explore the surroundings and what the campus has to offer
Sure, parties at 10 in the morning on a Tuesday may seem common during college years, but not everything has to revolve around loud music, skimpy clothes, and questionable choices in terms of alcohol. Remember that your purpose remains a good education, so take time to tour the campus to see everything that it has to offer.
You may be acquainted with the cafeteria, the dorms, and most of the class buildings, but every college also has a packed library, lounging areas, gyms, career centers, labs, and therapists.
The best thing about these facilities is that they are all included in your college tuition, so you might as well take advantage of them. The second you walk out the doors of your campus, every one of them will cost you money.
Take a mental health day. Or a week. Or a month
Many college students suffer from burnout, anxiety, stress, depression, and other affections with negative consequences not only on their mental health but also on their bodies. Learn to embrace your imperfections and live with them.
Taking care of your mental health is one problem that is still not properly tackled by faculty members, teachers, parents, and students. Being on top of your class, graduating, finding a job, struggling to pay your tuition while still enjoying life – these are some of the problems most youngsters are dealing with.
Remember that just one year ago, you were a kid who was still worrying about senior prom and SATs, so you cannot expect to fully transform into an adult over just a few months. Talking about mental health is not a shame, and both parents and children should address the problems they are facing.
If you feel like you need to take a break from school, some classes, or even your dorm friends, do so. Take your time, unplug, and find what brings you peace or makes you happy.
As we previously mentioned, every campus has a therapist who can guide you through this stressful time of your life and help you get rid of your anxiety. We are not wired the same, so why do you expect to react in the same way as your peers?
Living on the edge
If you have been living comfortably throughout college, you can’t say you experienced what it really has to offer. Sure, having no funds one or two weeks after your folks just sent you money is no fun, but it can also spark your creativity and help you think outside the box.
This part is also addressed to parents. Don’t be that person who goes the extra mile to provide the most comfortable life for your kid in college. Don’t decorate their dorm rooms with extravagant things such as a piano your kid will fall in love with or designer furniture and carpets.
Allow your child to break free and find his or her own purpose in life. Allow them to get a job, even if it’s part-time, and pay for at least one part of their monthly expenses. There is nothing wrong with teaching your child to be independent.
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