College is a wonderful and frightening place. Everything is new, the environment is unfamiliar and you’ve likely never been in the sort of social situations that you’re thrown into at college. But everyone is in the same boat, figuring it all out. There are certainly many preconceived notions you’re probably carrying around based on what you’ve heard other people say, and I’ll admit a lot of them are probably right. But there are a few expectations of how your experience will go that are, to be blunt, dead wrong. Some things will just blindside you, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Here are some of those scenarios and some advice on how to handle them.
- Changing your major
Like any teenager, you had your entire life all planned out. That one conversation you vaguely remember with your high school guidance counselor about your “personal development” and “vision for your future” went swimmingly, and you resolutely decided on your major that would dictate your career and productive place in our capitalist utopia. With an ambitious gleam in your eye, you jump right into your first semester and things go great. You’re so good at Principles of Accounting or Biology 101, and you know you made the right choice. Straight As for you. You finish your first year and you feel confident that you made the right choice, that you’re going to continue to excel in your field. But, then sophomore year hits you square in the jaw and your whole world comes crumbling down and your performance in that 7:30 p.m. business law class or that orgo lab isn’t stellar, to say the least.
What happened? How could this be? Turns out, maybe choosing your professional life path at age 16 isn’t all that prone to come to fruition. That one art or English elective you took for an easy A doesn’t look so bad now. “But I won’t make any money,” you reason to yourself. But then you realize the sooner you stop placing your self-worth and perceiving success on salary and stop worrying about what other people see as “practical” majors, the sooner you find your true calling and find happiness (mental health willing, of course).
- Missing your high school friends, then not missing them, then missing them again, and finally not recognizing them
You don’t want to leave your friends from childhood, the ones you bonded with over the years, the ones you told all your secrets, the ones who saw you in middle school and still accepted you despite how much of a mess you were, the ones who comprised your inseparable high school clique. How could you ever go on without them? Just fine, it turns out. Maybe not at first in the first few painfully awkward days of orientation (I empathize with all incoming freshman with social anxiety; I promise you’ll get through it), but you’ll find a nice groove to settle into eventually and you can see yourself in a social setting without your closest friends.
By proximity, you’ll have new people to confide in, and your home friends will miss out on all your life details and you on theirs, and that’s okay. When you go back home for winter break and finally meet up again, it’s a nice reunion, but then you realize how much you miss your new college friends. But when second semester comes around and you’re back at school, you get hit with some serious nostalgia and really miss your home friends so much it hurts. But then that feeling goes away, and back again, then away, then back again… you get the point.
- Meeting your significant other… at an entirely different school
First, a story: When I was deciding which school to accept as a senior, I talked to an Assumption alum who told me how great the school was, how tightly knit the community was, and how he met his wife there. Senior year me found that romantic and pondered that for a while. I could see that happening to me, I thought. But then you realize how quaint that idea seems in 2017. It’s called Tinder. Sure, you could absolutely meet the love of your life here, but, let’s face it, Assumption is small. You probably aren’t going to meet them here. So a few tips: Don’t box yourself in. Don’t rush anything, but embrace possibilities. Explore and question your gender and sexuality identity and avoid heteronormativity. Don’t even feel like you have to define anything or even be with anyone. The more open-minded you are, the happier you’ll be, and I certainly wish I had known all this my first-year year.
- Realizing your entire savings account is gone
Perhaps the most painful realization of all is the complete draining of your bank account. All that hard-earned money from your gruesome part-time job all those years, and you only have single digits in your checking and savings to show for. Buck up, ‘cause you’re gonna want to spend a lot more than you might think at school. My advice? As a first-year, try to get a work study on campus. Your options are limited because you aren’t allowed a car, but when sophomore year comes, if you’re fortunate enough to have a car, apply for a job off campus, and the stress of having less free time with be balanced with having enough money to survive. You’re welcome.
Luke Maguire, a junior, studies English and Accounting. He is the Arts & Entertainment Editor of Le Provocateur.