12 Tips For Adjusting To College Life
Adjusting to college life isn’t the easiest thing for a freshman to do. Anyone who’s ever attempted that four-year run at a degree is aware of this, and even though we know it’s tough, many of these things catch us off-guard year after year. With that in mind, 4Tests has put together a quick reference guide for the 12 greatest difficulties or challenges that you’re likely to experience when tackling this next phase of life. Let’s get started!
1. Your roommate.
This particular difficulty can be cleared up if you have a friend from high school that you plan on rooming with, but it’s not always possible to get the assignments that you desire depending on which school you’re going to and whether you plan to stay on- or off-campus. Furthermore, even friends that you think you know and like can become the worst possible people to live with. They may be a bad influence on your studies, or they may be incredibly annoying when they’re always there under the same roof. Living with someone definitely exacerbates their bad qualities, and if you do find you can’t live with them, it could be a damaging thing to your overall friendship, thus adding to the stress of this new chapter of life.
2. Making it to class on time, zero help
Many high school students are used to a certain degree of independence by the time they start college. Even so, there is Mom or Dad to fall back on when it comes to getting up on time and making it to class. The simple knowledge that you are their responsibility means they are going to make sure you make it even if you can’t be trusted with the alarm clock. When college starts, however, that all goes out the window. You’re an adult, and your truancy does not hold them legally liable for anything. That means you don’t have any failsafes. Many students make the adjustment, while others — like yours truly his freshman year — end up missing 12 8 a.m. classes in a single semester.
3. The Professors vs. Teachers dilemma
Professors and teachers both know a lot of stuff and work hard to make sure that you know what they know about the course material by the time school is out. However, they each have a different way of handling their concerns. With teachers, it’s very important that you pass because it helps the school’s graduation rates and improves the chances of you doing well on a standardized test. And a lot of them care about you, too — let’s not forget that! Professors, on the other hand, are under no obligation to hold your hand or make you do the work. They can even dislike you personally as long as they don’t let it show in how they treat their assessments. They treat you like full-fledged adults and your success is not a direct reflection on their own. In less than a year’s time, you have to adjust from the more permissive mindset to the couldn’t-possibly-care-less mindset. That’s not an easy leap.
4. Financial freedom
Financial freedom can be a good thing if you’re out of debt and not dependent on anyone. That’s not the kind of financial freedom I’m talking about here. No, with this particular financial freedom, you can get yourself into a LOT of trouble. That’s because you’re free to apply for high-interest credit cards, go on shopping sprees, then forget about all of it until the bill comes. If you charge anything that you can’t pay off at the end of the month, then things can get out of control pretty quickly. There are a number of financial institutions that prey on people in your position. Make sure that you see them coming, and that if you can’t pay cash for it upfront, or you can’t pay it off at the end of the month, you stay away from it. Credit cards are conduits of doom for college freshmen. Use responsibly or don’t apply for one in the first place.
5. Balancing work/social/school with no assistance
When you’re adjusting to college life, there is so much on the line. You’re getting acquainted up close and personal with the high cost of education. You’re meeting new people, getting into your first serious relationships, and trying to balance the wealth of knowledge and expectations hurled at your head. That’s a lot to take in, and it’s difficult to balance all of it, especially when you add a part-time (or even full-time) job to the mix.
Every college has a party night. For some it’s Friday; others Thursday. When in Party Mode, students don’t make the best of decisions, and that’s why a large number of the people who enroll as freshmen go home before the end of their first year. Don’t be one of them. Partying is going to happen — I would even argue it SHOULD happen — but you need to be responsible about it. Don’t put party time ahead of study time, especially if you have a pending deadline with which you know any sort of fun will interfere.
Tuition is going up. Books are going up. Scholarship and grant money is available, but more exclusive in their availability. At some point, most college students are going to have to borrow a sizable sum of money to keep their educational dreams alive. That’s why it is important to take picking a major seriously and to work hard and do your best in every class. You don’t want to take a class multiple times or change majors over and over again. Every time you do, it adds to the interest and the probability that you will turn 50 before you ever pay that monster off.
8. Group study dynamics
In high school, groups are easier to handle. Some of you are legitimately good at working within one while others can just latch on to one or two people and copy what they’re doing to get the same grade. In college, you’re more likely to work with people, who are unwilling to operate by the same dynamics. That takes getting used to and generally evens out the responsibilities of everyone involved.
9. Long treks across campus
At some point when adjusting to college life, you’re probably going to have two 50-minute classes back-to-back, leaving you only 10 minutes to move from one side of the campus to the other. Many of you will even have this happen multiple times on the same day (if you stack all your classes into a MWF or TR plan). Wear your best running shoes on those days and try to work out in your head the exact amount of time it takes to make that journey. Then, make sure you travel as light as possible. Maybe consider parking between the two buildings and only carrying one set of books with you, making a pit stop at your car between classes. Bottom line: use your imagination and find shortcuts.
10. Finding work
Unfair though it may be, many employers have been burned by college students, so when you’re responsible, you have to fight the stigma of that when looking for a part-time job for extra cash. The first thing you need to do to overcome this obstacle is know the negative stereotypes associated with your peers. Then, when applying for work and filling out applications, work as hard as you possibly can to defy those expectations.
11. Choosing a major
It’s the rest of your life! Of course, it’s going to be a tough decision. That means you may not get it right the first time. But don’t get trapped in a vicious circle where you’re constantly picking the wrong major. Have an idea about where your interests lie and do research into the types of jobs available. Also, consider the possibilities. The job you end up doing may not even exist yet. Can you use your passion and interest to carve a new path and innovate?
12. The Freshman 15
Seriously, don’t let your diet get away from you. Countless studies have shown that people in your position have a tendency to gain bad weight when moving away for college, decreasing physical activity, and engaging in less than healthy food options. Metabolisms don’t last forever, and college doesn’t often afford you the same level of activity that you had built in to your high school day.
Adjusting to college is a challenge for any student. Always has been. But by knowing what the challenges are ahead of time, you can develop a plan that helps you tackle each one and maintain control of your life. What are some difficulties that you’ve had adjusting to college? Sound off in the comments section!