If you’re currently a junior or senior in high school, you’re confronting some important decisions that will impact both your short-term and long-term future. In particular, you’re making decisions about college, and it might seem as though one wrong step can ruin everything.
Well, first of all, relax. Very few decisions at this point in time are completely permanent. But college is certainly an important experience, and planning carefully can make everything much easier (and more fun). Once you address these fears in a positive manner, you will find that most of the stress melts away.
Fear Number One: I will hate my roommate. We won’t lie to you; you might or might not become best friends with this person for life. But even if you don’t, that doesn’t mean living together has to be a miserable experience. On your very first day, sit down and have an upfront discussion of things like quiet hours, cleaning, food sharing, and anything else that could become a contentious issue. Most conflict can be avoided through open communication, and now is the time to begin practicing some negotiation skills.
And if things really don’t work out, remember the situation is temporary. At the end of the year, you can part ways (and sometimes at the end of Fall semester).
Fear Number Two: I will choose the wrong major and be stuck with it forever. This one is just plain untrue. You can change your major at any time, although it might mean a few extra semesters in college. Head off this problem early, by focusing on core classes first. Then take just one or two classes in your potential major to see how you like them. You don’t have to dive in all the way during freshman year.
Fear Number Three: I won’t make any friends. Combat this fear with logic: It’s a rare person who doesn’t make any friends. But yes, joining a few organizations, offering to study with classmates, and hanging out at student events can certainly help.
Fear Number Four: I will be so homesick, I can’t stand it. You know yourself best. If this is truly a possibility, there’s no rule that says you have to attend college on the other side of the country. Stick close to home if you really need to. But for most freshmen, this fear doesn’t turn out to be a reality. Campus activities will keep you so busy that you’ll have to remind yourself to call home once in a while!
Fear Number Five: Money is going to be a huge problem. There are many ways to address this issue well ahead of your move-in date. Start talking to your parents now, and develop a strategy to pay for school (and living expenses). Trust that your financial aid application, scholarship search, and other efforts will come together in time. Once you receive acceptance letters to a few schools, then you can start comparing price tags to make your final decision.