8 Things First-Year Students Fear About College

Above is the headline co-authors Mary Kay Shanley and Julia Johnston use in a very useful article for parents and students ready to head off to college for the first time. Because of its length, I’ve abbreviated much of it and added my own comments in this video:

Here are the 8 fears to watch:

1. “Am I smart enough?”
Despite how well students did in high school, they go by what they hear: that college is harder. But it takes “organization, time management, and getting to know professors” that help a great deal.

2. “Will my roommate be weird?
A roommate could unload a palm tree when moving in, making room space smaller, or have a sleepover while cross-pollinating with the opposite sex. If problems arise, resident assistants are available to resolve any problems.

3. “Where’s my best friend?”
Having someone who understands you – like someone special you knew in high school – isn’t there.  Now what? Follow what is told during orientation, and because everyone else is as scared as you, you can find one acquaintance and head for lunch together.

4. “Will I be okay without my folks, my dog and my car?”
Students will try to avoid the vacuum that exists without their stuff of home: mom’s good cooking and their own bed. It’s okay, say the authors, “to miss your family and want to be home.” But students can work out their stress by mixing with other students in physical activities, such as Frisbee, intramural sports, workouts in the school’s gym, and even yoga.

5. “Where’s the party?”
Virtually all colleges are “party schools.” But your student can find plenty of students who prefer other forms of fun. According to a Columbia University study, nearly HALF of all college students are drug abusers or binge drinkers. It’s the other half who can relate to your preference NOT to drink to excess.

6. “Peer pressure for sex?”
Students need to know that NOT having sex is common (Is there hope, or am I too old to read this stuff? Don’t answer!) Keep in perspective that if someone needs to see you drunk to like you, you can walk away with your integrity intact.

7. “Where’s the money?”
This is a huge issue. Students think there’s never enough (Where did that thought come from?) “Cheaper books, cheaper meals, cheaper fun – they really exist.”

8. “Is it safe here?”
Student safety is a concern for everyone. A Northeastern Univ professor, a criminologist, told me at a seminar last year that college campuses are indeed the safest places to live. So the safety issue goes to things like being accused of date rape, or not having friends take turns on not drinking so you can be driven safely from a party.  Program your campus security number into your cell phone, and “lock it or lose it” when it comes to your personal property, especially the laptop in your room.

My take: Students need to know that we all fear what we don’t know. That’s only natural. I’ve always found that fear is overcome by embracing it as a huge positive in your life. That fear is there to protect you, to secure you, to alert you to what you can’t see or hear. As your emotional shield, it can help you adjust to the moment where the unexpected arises, and it can help you overcome what was once perceived as a big deal, but now it’s pretty insignificant.
To learn more of the ways to find your safety school, as well as ways to pay for it, click here.


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