Why Starting College Is Really Scary
and Why It’s Totally Normal to Be Afraid
Growing up, we’re told to do well in school so we can get good grades and go to a good college. We study, join clubs, participate in extracurricular activities all in preparation for that one shared goal every student has: go to college. So what happens when it’s finally time to go; when you uproot your life and leave the place you’ve become familiar with for the past eighteen years? It’s not always as easy as it seems.
All throughout high school I looked forward to college. It was the light at the end of the tunnel, the thing that motivated kids to strive to be their very best selves. I applied to schools all over the country, however, none in my home state New York. I always thought that college was the time to go off into the world and become truly independent and I didn’t think I could do that being close to home. So I did the obvious thing — choose a school in California, all the way on the other side of the country. It didn’t seem so scary when I toured and applied and eventually got accepted, but now that I actually have to leave it is suddenly the most daunting thing I have ever had to do. Yes, I am extremely excited and yes, the nerves are normal but it doesn’t negate the fact that leaving home, no matter the distance, no matter how many hours spent traveling, is scary. And it’s not something they tell you about in high school. It’s not something you’ll hear your friends talk about because there’s this stigma that college is the best time of your life — you’re simply not supposed to struggle adjusting.
It’s okay to be scared. Everyone is. If you come across someone who says they aren’t, they’re most likely lying. Everyone is in the same boat, trying to work their way through the same mess as you. High school was easy because the endgame for everyone was the same. Going to a new place where what happens at the end of the four years spent there is different for everyone is an overwhelming thought to process. It does become less challenging with time. Starting classes, making friends, and immersing yourself in the new community are all ways to calm those transitioning nerves. Everyone adjusts at their own pace so don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Whether it takes you three weeks or three months to finally feel comfortable and at home at your school, know that it’s okay to feel lost and confused and occasionally doubt every decision you made along the way. As long as the fear isn’t paralyzing then it will all work out. Someone very wise once told me,
“there are very few things in life that are permanent.”
College is not one of them. It flies by. Don’t waste time feeling like your emotions aren’t justifiable or that you’re not allowed to feel a certain way when you do finally leave. Just make sure you look up every once and a while and realize that the time you spend at your new home may be some of the best moments of your life.