It’s impossible to deny that freshman year of college is tough.
For many students, it’s the first time they’ve lived on their own, or had the space to begin to figure out who they are.
That change can feel lonely. It may seem like everyone except you is having the time of their life, but that’s because nobody wants to admit that they’re struggling. Here’s what I wish I knew before coming to college freshman year.
It can be draining.
The first semester is especially exhausting for freshmen because you are constantly forced to brave the world outside of your comfort zone. That means figuring out how to live away from home, how to approach classes at a higher level and how to make a place for yourself on a brand-new campus. Basically, expect to feel overwhelmed and tired, especially during the first few weeks. But don’t worry, it’s normal.
Most friendships take time.
You might be determined to find your forever best friend in the first week of college, but that’s not common for most people. If you don’t get along with the people you meet right away, that’s okay.
Some people get lucky. Maybe they find an amazing roommate that they bond with perfectly, or maybe they meet a new best friend during Welcome Week. But not everyone lucks out with a great roommate and a fun floor, which is why a lot of people get involved in clubs or Greek life.
Try something new
The scariest thing about freshman year is the thought of not making any new friends, but every single freshman is in the same boat. Making new friends in college can be nerve-wracking, especially if you’ve grown up with the same friends since kindergarten. It’s important to come out of your shell when seeking new connections. Unfortunately, your new friends aren’t going to come running to you. You must make an effort if you want to meet new people.
There are many ways to jump out of your comfort zone. You can start by leaving your door open or sitting with someone you don't know in the dining hall. I thought it was weird to go up to a stranger at the dining hall, until I heard that my friend met his current roommate at the dining hall freshman year.
You can even take a bigger step to expand your social circle by joining a club. At IU, there is a club for pretty much anything – whether you’re into sports, art or even beekeeping. Branching out to make new friends can be scary, but it’s good for building confidence and it strengthens your social skills.
No, not everyone is having a great time.
Most people won’t tell you they’re having a hard time, but deep down they are. Nobody wants to admit that they’re struggling because college is supposed to be “the best years of your life,” so you might feel crazy if you don’t enjoy your time at school.
College sounds amazing in theory: you are living on your own with no parental guidance and all the newfound freedom that comes with it. But that can also be scary. I remember staying in on weekend nights and scrolling through social media, thinking that everyone but me was having so much fun in college. However, I’d go home on breaks and hear how my friends were homesick and struggling to find new friends at school. Even though it might feel like everyone but you is having the best time, remember that all new students are still adjusting to this big change.
Give it time
Even if college may seem like it isn’t fun right now, give it some time and it will grow on you. Don’t let social media fool you into thinking you’re missing out, because everyone is feeling a little out of place their freshman year. It’s okay to struggle in college, that just means you are closer to figuring out who you are.