The anticipation of college is a process that most high school students go through. Because they’ve seen college-related movies, heard stories, or watched siblings or older friends go through it, everyone has their own preconceived notions of what college life will be like. Unfortunately, not everyone’s college experience will unfold like those that have gone before them!campus_life

I’m going to be real with you; college can be hard! A bit of advice I might offer, before you step foot on campus, is to set reasonable expectations. Not every student is going to progress or adapt at the same pace, so know who you are and be real with yourself. Yes, people change to some degree when they move away for college, but it certainly doesn’t happen overnight!  Get to know the real you and learn to be comfortable with that person!

College isn’t like high school. You won’t be moving from classroom to classroom with the same group of people, eating lunch with them each day or participating in the same extracurricular activities.  In some cases, you may not see your friends or acquaintances every day!  If you play a sport in college, there won’t be pre-game snacks or meals prepared by your loving mothers, and your parents may not be able to attend every one of your games. The commitment to play for your college involves countless hours of practice, conditioning, meetings and travel.  Don’t get me wrong, college sports are still a great experience, but it’s definitely a different atmosphere than high school.

Best friends may be hard to find. When my daughter entered college this past fall, her expectation was that she would find her best college friend within the first month of school. That doesn’t always happen! Granted, she has met a ton of new people and interacts with many of them through clubs and organizations that she is involved with.  Friendships take time; after all, it took a little while for you to get to know your high school best friend, so why would you expect anything less with your college peers? Keep an open mind, get to know people and hear their stories. That new best friend may be right under your nose and you just don’t know it yet!

Get used to sharing and waiting in line. College teaches you that patience is a virtue! You will have to stand in line to use the restroom, showers, laundry facilities, and to grab lunch. As a side note, not everyone you encounter in college will be respectful or mature, and not everyone is passionate about their education. Some students go to college because their parents are making them, others are in college to play a sport, and yet others are more interested in the party scene. Not everyone is like you, so rather than judge, you need to be open, accept people for who they are, find those that you connect with and learn from the rest.

You have to be responsible! You don’t have parents, school counselors and teachers looking over your shoulder to make sure you have all of your homework done and handed in on time. They aren’t there to tell you what is due, when it’s due and that you need to seek help if you’re having trouble. You are responsible for getting your work done, scheduling appointments and keeping track of meetings. If you were the type of person who was involved in everything in high school and not so much in college, then you will be surprised at how much free time you will have! Use this time wisely, because the habits you form in the first semester of college could be good or they could work against you, depending upon how you fill your time!

College is what you make of it.  Don’t expect the college experience to be laid out all nice and neat for you the day you step foot on campus. Get involved in clubs and organizations, strike up conversations in your classes or your dorm to meet new people. Create a balance between your academics and your social life. Nobody is going to hold your hand and make you get involved or make you talk to strangers.  You have to learn to be comfortable, yet strong enough to say I have to do this to better myself.” The earlier you learn to be proactive, the better! Just remember to put things in perspective. Be confident in yourself, don’t compare yourself to others and keep your expectations in check.