Every student inevitably carries expectations and preconceived notions about college with them when they first arrive. Our perception of college is shaped by many things like older siblings, friends, popculture, or our parents. But, what should you really be expecting to experience on a daily basis during your freshman year? We’ve compiled some thoughts and (possibly more) realistic expectations to consider when you first arrive on campus. Be sure to catch Part 2 of this series!
It’s Normal to Take a While to Find Your Groove
Entering college as a freshman is an enormous life change. You can expect a lot of confusing feelings, new difficulties, and some time required to get settled in. Here are several things that can be confusing and may take you a while to find that new groove.
Finding Your ‘Group’
Finding your main group of friends is important in college just as it was in high school. Sure, you want to make many friends in classes, clubs, and intramurals, but you will most likely settle into a small group of friends that you hang out with day in and day out. Lacking a solid group at first can be unnerving. But, be aware that every other freshman is suffering with the same issues! It took me well into my sophomore year to really feel like my main friend group began to truly gel. So, understand that things, especially friendships, take time to develop. Try to be patient and make friends in your dorm, classes, and elsewhere. Likely, your ‘group’ will find you, not the other way around!
Expect to Be Confused
Where do I register for classes? How do I get tickets to the big game? What do I need to take to the gym with me? What building is this again? How did I get lost for the third time this week? You WILL be confused. Many, many times. So, don’t worry about it; it is completely normal! When you are confused, ask a friend of yours in the dorm. Likely, they are just as confused as you. If you and your buddy still can’t figure it out, ask your RA. Practice not being afraid to ask. It is better to get over that fear as soon as possible, because learning to ask is one thing you will need a lot in college, your future career, and also the rest of your life. Listen, if you are like me then you will do way more embarrassing things then asking a question… like when I sat in the wrong classroom. I was too afraid to ask at the beginning of the class, so I just had to wait out the entire class when I figured out that it was the wrong one. Don’t be like me!
Expect to Be Yourself
Lastly on finding your groove, be yourself. Yes, I realize that ‘be yourself’ is probably the most cliché phrase of all cliché phrases. But, it is true, and I don’t feel like trying to come up with a different way to say it (I am practicing being myself).
You finally have your freedom! Your schedule and time is whatever you make of it! You can wear whatever you want to wear! You can eat whatever and whenever you wish! Find your groove by doing what you want. Don’t feel pressured by others or what you might see on T.V. to act or be a certain way. Wear the clothes that make you feel comfortable and confident about yourself. Participate in the activities that you enjoy and do not compromise your comfort levels. With all of this newfound freedom, there can be a push and an expectation to go crazy. But, take it from those that have come before, just take some deep breaths and relax a little bit. You will certainly enjoy your college years much more if you are much less concerned with others’ expectations.
What to Expect from Your Dorm Life
Dorm life is major part of the freshman experience. You may live off campus the rest of your college years, but you cannot fully appreciate living in that lap of luxury without first experiencing the lack of luxury in the dorm. There is some truth to this indeed, but dorm life can actually be really great! It is very easy to become close with friends because you are forced to be physically close to them And, there is always something going on. The following are some things to expect when it comes to the details of living in a dorm room.
Expect to Be Friends With Your Roommate
You and your roommate may become best friends or you may not necessarily spend a ton of time together. Either way, you will see each other quite a lot. If you and your roommate become friends on any level, your dorm life will be exponentially better! My freshman roommate and I were very different, and we were not absolute best buds. But, we were still friends and enjoyed sharing a room all the same. What made this work well was a general respect for each other as well as a friendly disposition. So, make every effort to be friends with your roommate at least on some level. The easiest way to do this is to go eat meals at the dining hall together. Something about sharing meals together always brings people together. Plus, other friends can come along that will break the awkwardness of being together alone in a tiny dorm room.
One more note on your roommate situation… Even if you and your roommate become BFFs, you are likely to get annoyed at each other. Heck, in that tiny amount of space, I become annoyed at myself! When this happens, first take a deep breath and go for a walk. Consider why you are annoyed and how you may be able to help the situation yourself without blaming your roommate. Simply getting out of your room for a little while can do wonders for your level of acceptance. If needed, discuss the issue with your roommate with as much respect as possible. Try not to blame them, but instead focus on how the situation makes you feel. Offer to help improve the situation with something that you can do instead of just asking them to change. A general level of respect and understanding can go a long way in these situations! Don’t pretend you didn’t learn the golden rule in Kindergarten either!
Expect To Develop Mutual Respect for Your RA
RAs are often stereotyped as the enemy of college freshman. Listening around every corner trying to catch students having too much fun is the common theme. But, the reality is that RAs can be really cool. After all, they are college students too. Remember that your RA has a job to do though. You can make your RA’s job easy or hard. Likewise, your RA can make your life easy or a nightmare. The best way to keep things fun and easy is developing a mutual respect with your RA. Follow their guidelines when it is truly important, and they are likely to turn a blind eye to you and your roommate pulling your mattresses out of your room to slide down the 2 story stairwell.
Expect to Sleep in Your Dorm Room, Not Live There
Dorm rooms are tiny. Which is not always fun, but it can be good thing. You don’t want to be spending all of your time there anyway! You need to be outside making new friends and trying new things. Go for walks, tag along on a weekend road trip, or simply go explore a new building on campus. All in all, expect to not be in your dorm room much; you have a bed in there and not much else for a good reason.
Hopefully, this has allowed you to understand some realistic expectations for dorm life and general college living. Be sure to check out part 2 on what to expect in your classes and more!