It’s about halfway through the semester and most freshmen are starting to get into the swing of things. They’ve figured out the tunnels and that tough professor’s expectations; maybe they’ve even figured out how to budget their small amount of declining money and navigate every building on the academic and engineering quads. Even though that mid-semester stress is kicking in, we freshmen at least know where and who we can turn to for whatever we may need. Looking back, I find that I had a lot of misconceptions about being a college student. Here are some things to keep in mind before you become a freshman next fall!
1. You might not make friends right away.
The summer before you go off to college can be a weird one. It’s the last time you and your high school friends will be together before you go to college and change, so it’s filled with apprehension and excitement. Many rising freshmen have the notion that their new social circle is going to fall into place right away. For some, this may be true, but for most, that is not the case. The friends you make during Orientation won’t necessarily be your friends at the end of the fall semester. This is perfectly okay! Most people don’t find a strong friend group until they get involved with a club and find others with similar interests. Your social life may also be very different than it was in high school. Many have friends from several organizations who all have different interests! Don’t stress if your social circle doesn’t fall into place right away.
2. The responsibility is on you, but help is here.
Upon arriving at college and finally getting settled into the dorm, there was a moment when I realized that I was finally out on my own. I had been waiting and waiting for this moment, but when it finally came, it was more overwhelming than I thought. How was I to survive without my best friend? My dog? No one was around to tell me to eat dinner (you might need this reminder more than you think) or to get all of my homework done. The truth is, the responsibility to do all of these basic things was on me now. This can leave you feeling incredibly alone, but there are so many wonderful resources on campus to help you when you’re in any kind of situation. Whether that situation is emotional, academic, or social, you have your RA or D’Lion to turn to, but beyond that you have the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, University Health Service, and many others.
3. You don’t have to do everything.
Many of the students who attend the University of Rochester are the types of students who were heavily involved in many activities in high school. Despite the fact that it may seem like you have more free time in college, you will find that many clubs are more of a commitment than your average high school club. For example, my a cappella group, Trebellious, rehearses for about eight hours a week with regular performances. Most of my clubs in high school only met once or twice a week for 45 minutes. When it comes to getting involved in college, one must really prioritize. I highly recommend going to many different general interest meetings to gauge whether a club is for you, but after that, it is very helpful to narrow down what you really feel like investing your time in!
4. Be whomever you want to be.
As cliché as this may sound, college is the place to change yourself if you want to! Perhaps no one you know from your high school is going to your college, so you’re in no way constricted by who you were in high school. If you want to try acting and join Todd Union or The Opposite of People, that is up to you. If you want to join a community service group or study American Sign Language, all of these options are here. Never feel restricted. More than likely, trying new things will even make you a better, more well-rounded person, which is part of the reason we have universities in the first place!