Surviving College 101: What to Expect in Your First Semester of College

Surviving College 101: A Student's Guide to College Life
It’s tough to make generalizations about college, as much as the film industry propagandizes the opposite.  Not all colleges are Animal House or Old School stereotypes. There is a huge difference between the experience you will have at a state school versus a small privatized liberal arts college. Sporting events will be a lot rowdier at a state school; students emphasize socializing over class time; even the “dress code” tends to be different.  The state school uniform will most likely be college tees and jeans.  Since class sizes are drastically tinier, students at smaller colleges tend to dress nicer.  Relationships with professors will be different–large schools emphasize research and their graduate program rather than focusing on their undergraduate students.  That being said, there are a few certainties that EVERY college freshman should expect:
  • You and everyone else will be completely overwhelmed and stressing out about not being/looking overwhelmed.  It is great to meet a lot of new people and be a part of the college community, but on the flip side you’re living amongst complete strangers in an unfamiliar spot.  Stress.
  • Unless you’re coming from a prep school like Exeter, expect a lot more work for a lot less pay-off.  An hour or two of work in high school meant an “A.”  In college, 10-15 hours of work might earn a “B.”
  • A lot of people drinking themselves stupid every night.  It’s really important to remember that the kids you see out every night are not doing well in school with rare exceptions, and the rest of them are picking one or two nights a week.  It just looks like everyone is out all the time, when in reality it’s a rotation.  The same goes for studying.  It may seem like everyone’s goofing off constantly but a lot of students are closet studiers.
  • A lot more diversity that you’re ready for.  I don’t mean skin color or nationality, I mean value systems.  I assumed when I walked on to campus that a lot of young, liberal people would think the way I did but there was actually a lot of diversity of thought.
  • Probably some loneliness and a lot of people scrambling to find friendships.  Everyone is scared and nervous, so that should give you something to bond over!

Thanks for reading, and best wishes to a successful first semester.



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