Taking Stock of the First Semester in College

So you just finished the first semester in college. It wasn’t an easy one and things couldn’t have been more different than what you were expecting. But don’t despair your experience is not unique and there is nothing abnormal about it. Here is yet another listsicle with the things that almost all freshmen experienced during their first semester in college.

  1. This is hard stuff. Yes, transitions are always though and when you transition from high school standards and expectations to college ones things are bound to be though. So what you are feeling is normal and almost everybody went through a similar experience. I can promise you that it will get better the second semester and the rest of them will get easier. Hang in there.
  2. Am I cut out for this? Yes you are. Think about it this way, you did well in high school and got accepted into college. Especially if you went to a university with somewhat selective standards the university took a chance on you because they know you can succeed. Universities don’t like to take risks and if they didn’t think that you are cut out for it they wouldn’t have admitted you. So, yes you are cut out for this. In other words, is not just you and your family that wants you to succeed the university has a vested interest in your success as well. So start asking questions around campus on what services are available and how can you use them to become successful.
  3. I may lose my merit scholarship. Unfortunately this is a very common issue. I try to bring attention to this fact as often as possible. I read somewhere that about 50% of the students on merit aid lose eligibility during the first two years in college. What you can do is find out if the university has some grade forgiveness policy so that you can retain the scholarship. Some colleges have it and some don’t, but it’s worth a try.
  4. I am never going back there again. Well this kind of goes with the Am I cut out for this and if you have such strong feelings about it remember that there is always a safety net — the local community college. It’s not uncommon for students to start at a university and discover that they are not ready and start or transfer credits to the local community college and continue their education. So if this option appeals to you go for it. The key is to not give up because the jobs of the future require some type of postsecondary credential after high school.
  5. Help! I want to transfer. This is common as well. So the school does not fit you don’t fit in and that’s okay. Contingent on the number of credits you completed you may want to transfer the credits or reapply for admission at another college. Weigh in these things carefully because they can make a difference in the financial aid packet. The short story is that freshmen students get the highest tuition discounts (grants & scholarships) while transfer students get some tuition discounts. So, you may need to check if you can reapply as a freshman at the college of your choice.
  6. Need to change my major, but to what? This is very common for college students and it is likely to happen at least once to most students. There are those superman/girl who know what they want to study since they were 10 years old and they are unlikely to need to change their major, however for us mortals changing the major is common and in some cases recommended. The issue comes in when we need to change it to something that we don’t know. The first two years in college according to personal experience and theories of cognitive development are for exploration and discovery. So if you don’t know yet what you want to change it to know that it’s normal and take your time in making the decision. In the meantime try to complete as many general education courses as possible and explore information about different majors. You’ll figure it out and everything will be okay, so don’t panic.
  7. I need to advocate for myself. Yes, college is about growing up and discovering ourselves and starting to wrestle with the world around us. It’s not easy, but we have all the skills and tools needed to do it. So if the roommate situation is not working for you, or a grade was unfair, etc. this is the time to start advocating for ourselves and start defending our interests. We may succeed sometimes and fail sometimes, but this is a great time to start cultivating this skill and knowledge that will come in handy later in life. Because in truth all we do later on is advocating for ourselves to get a job, a raise, a career, etc. so use this time wisely and cultivate this skill.
  8. This is so much fun! Yes, it is and is supposed to be this way. Go out, make friends, get involved on campus activities, and do good because the world needs you and your knowledge, skills, and love. So enjoy it, have fun, and keep working hard!

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