Dear Estelle. Next week I leave for college and must admit I’m full of anxiety and sleeplessness. I’ve purchased all my “stuff” and even attended a college night at the Container Store , of all places. I’ve communicated with my roommate on Face book and feel I’ve been “paired” quite well considering I was only notified recently that I had to complete a special form because I’m underage. Many of my friends are nervous about leaving home but honestly, the two things that cause me the most concern are keeping up with my academics and possible roommate issues. These are obviously two major issues and from what I read in one of your previous columns, roommate difficulties can create enough problems to cause people to drop out of school.
Regarding studying, I have always been pretty lax but managed to improve my GPA and test scores to get accepted to a major public university out of state. I’m pretty excited about going away to school but feel I will have to work very hard to maintain a “B” average. Realizing that my folks will no longer remind me to study I know I must commit to a different lifestyle in order to succeed.
My high school was more about doing a lot of busy work. Studying in college will not be like this and I know writing long papers will be difficult. I’ve always wanted to go to college and am thrilled with my choice of schools but I do have concerns about living with another person and doing my academic work well. My parents will not pay for me to be a slacker and working towards a career will be a good goal.
Do you have any last minute suggestions for a “soon to be” college freshman?
Don’t think you’re alone in your concerns. Every student I counsel realizes that college is a very big leap from high school and I appreciate your candidness regarding the issues you face as you prepare to leave for college. I like to meet with my clients during the weeks before they leave for college to discuss their concerns.
Regarding the academic issues, remember that you are now in charge. Your parents will always be there for you but they are living in Colorado and you are attending college in another state. This is the first realization that you are on the road to independence. Become your own advocate. Take classes initially that won’t overwhelm you. If you feel you are getting behind or need help, remember every professor has office hours. Find out what these are and make an appointment. They want you to succeed in college. Professors don’t live in ivory towers and are accessible to students. They especially enjoy talking to their students about the class material. If you can’t see them during office hours, try email, face book and twitter.
Unlike high school, college classes don’t meet everyday nor do you have weekly exams or papers to write so manage your time carefully to ensure that you keep up with your work. Above all, don’t cut classes . Just because there is no one to report you when you miss, the class you “blow off” might just be the one where the professor explains a concept that will be on an upcoming exam.
Concerning your roommate, I recommend you talk about your likes, dislikes and habits in terms of sleep, study, visitors, borrowing clothes, cleanliness, etc. right up front. Set boundaries so that you establish a respect for one another immediately. Most likely you will become good friends but just like a marriage there needs to be some understanding of the other person’s needs and values. Go in with an open mind but understand there will be differences in the way you each “do life.” Seek assistance from a resident advisor, if necessary.
Remember, although seemingly difficult, it is important to take charge. Learn to advocate for yourself. Also, college is about having fun. Wishing you great success in all your college endeavors!