It's summer, but if you're like me, chances are you college-bound folks are already anticipating some of the ways your life is going to change this fall.
Read over this list of common life changes for college students and note what kind of response each elicits in you. Are you worried, excited, terrified, or resigned about what is potentially going to happen next year?
Also brace yourself for YOUR best friend to find new friends. You might start hearing a lot about how awesome her roommate Jenny is and getting a little jealous. That's ok. You will find new friends too (and don't feel guilty about clicking with someone and becoming as close - if not closer - to new people in college).
Even if you go to the same school - heck, even if you two room together - there are no guarantees that your friendship won't morph into something different come college. You are two young adults with evolving interests, and it's only natural that those interests might diverge at some point.
2. Significant Others
If you are leaving a high school sweetheart to go to college, have a discussion about the boundaries and expectations of your relationship. Is it cool if you date other people? If so, do you need to be open about who you are seeing? Are you remaining faithful to each other, and will check in with daily phone calls and bimonthly visits?
You don't have to listen to the naysayers who warn you your relationship won't last. It might not. But, hey, it totally might. You two figure out what works for you when dating long distance.
And if you go off to school together, talk about how you are going to give each other space to meet new people, explore new interests, and pursue new opportunities. Decide what decisions about your respective futures you want to make factoring in the other person, and which you need to make solely on your own.
Not that this is a bad thing - if your parents/grandmother/guardian wants you to be happy, assume their advice, interventions, and sometimes even meddling, are well-intentioned.
However, you need to delineate new boundaries about what you are and are not willing to discuss. Perhaps you want to keep your dating life private, or you don't want to dissect every test you take. Maybe you want to ASK for advice, and gently remind your parent to otherwise please not offer unsolicited counsel.
If you love talking with your mom every day on the phone, by all means, continue to do so. But if your mom is calling you three times a day and you're feeling a little smothered, reassure her that you will call her every Monday to catch up (and then do it!).
By the way, don't assume your parents will languish in your absence. They have lives that they will keep on living after you leave the house.
Accordingly, another change you might observe is feeling isolated from your family back home. If this is the case, ask to set up a regular phone call or Skype session with your parents, or request a daily email check-in.
Remember, parents have their own lives and are trying to respect your new one at college. If you want them to be more present in your life, ask them.
4. Academic and Professional Interests
- Artist / Painter
- Fashion Designer
- History Teacher
- Professor and Researcher
I entered college intent on becoming a professor of American History. I left college bound for a master's program in Russian Studies, angling for a career with the government. I set off for my PhD program prepared to become a historian of Imperial Russia, with a focus on naval technology.
And now I am a writer and Higher Education Consultant.
I don't regret any of it - not a class, not a year of my life - because the sum of exploring all of these interests, some tentatively and some with gusto - prepared me to discern my actual vocation and gave me the necessary skills to be successful at it.
My point? Don't feel guilty about changing your mind about what you want to study or do professionally one time, three times, fifteen times. More than anything, finding what you like, you're good at it, and what you don't mind devoting your energy too is an extended process of elimination.
5. Stress Level
Some students, suddenly free from the perceived tyranny of over-involved parents, teachers, or coaches might go a little, um, bananas with their new-found freedom. I saw it happen. The novelty usually peaks fairly quickly, and students typically resume their normal work and study habits by the end of freshman year.
Other students feel a pressing need to be the best whatever they were in high school - the best student, the best singer, the best athlete. And they stress about it an inordinate amount.
The best stress management tip I can recommend is to treat college like a job. You get to have a personal life independent of your academic schedule and responsibilities!
"Miss Jessica, is there lunchtime in college?"
The rest of the kids wanted to know as well - when do students get to eat? What do they eat? Where do they eat? Can you eat in the classroom?
I assured them that college students do, in fact, eat lunch, which can be obtained from the dining hall or any number of shops or fast food stops on campus. They were also delighted to learn that most professors allow students to eat in class.
What they were most surprised to learn, however, was that their schedule wasn't going to be the same every day. Some days a student might have 4 classes, and other days just one. Or none, if you schedule it right.
Once you get to college, you are in charge of scheduling yourself for class, meals, working, studying, social time, sleep, and any extracurricular activities.
If you are not confident in your time management skills, consult an on-campus advisor, trusted professor, or even a friend who always seems on top of his schedule on how to juggle your multiple obligations.
Do not wait for the time to appear to get stuff done, because (as you may have noticed) it never will. You have to make the time.
Reflect on your responses to some of these potential changes in your relationships, ambitions, stress level, and schedule. Do any make you nervous? Are you excited about taking the next step?
And finally, if in doubt about your ability to contend with any one of these changes common to a college student, remember two things.
First, you are absolutely capable.
And second, and most importantly, if you want to be treated like an adult, act like one. Be proactive about some of your impending responsibilities by having the necessary discussions with friends, significant others, parents, and academic advisors now so that you feel prepared for changes come fall.