A Letter to Terrified, Pre-College Me
Dear Past Me,
No matter what school you go to, you’re going to get a great education and start a new chapter in your life. Try not to worry about where that happens, and just focus on preparing yourself for the transition. When you don’t get into the school of your dreams, don’t get too hung up on it and focus on all the options you do have because maybe it was a blessing in disguise.
When looking at your options, don’t be afraid to make the jump to a further university. It is time you learned some independence and the distance WILL help you learn to deal with things on your own. While homesickness is going to be a problem anywhere you go, you made the right decision to put some distance between you and your hometown.
Also, really think about what you want to accomplish and what values you place high on your list of priorities. Think about the money because it doesn’t matter if people are telling you that college loans aren’t a big deal; if they’re a big deal to you then they’re a big deal. Also, think about the classes you’re going to take at the university you want to go to: does it look like you can finish your degree in four years without being severely stressed out? If you’re on the fence about your decision, DO NOT be afraid to ask someone who already goes there. They know better than the random articles on the Internet.
Most importantly, the next four years are really going to be a time when you straighten out your priorities and prepare yourself to live independently. You may have many ideas about what that’s going to look like, but those aren’t going to be the reality. Nothing you’ve watched on TV can really prepare you for what you’re going to experience. Try to find some acceptance that you’re walking into a new experience and that you’re going to feel lost at times.
You aren’t made for the typical college experience.
Sorry to disappoint you but eventually you’ll see that you don’t like going to parties. And you aren’t going to suddenly get interested in joining a sorority. That’s just not you.
For the majority of your first year, you are going to feel incredibly homesick and call family a lot.
But this is VERY normal. So don’t freak out when all your friends are telling you that college is super fun and you’re ready to leave for winter break by week two. You will find out what works for you and come around to college life in your own time. What you find as a replacement for parties and sororities will be far more fulfilling because you didn’t bend to anyone’s will and you stuck it out. Follow your own interests and what you think is right will lead to some place great.
That being said, don’t be afraid to join in on social activities, but don’t feel rushed either.
Try as hard as you can to go outside of your comfort zone and meet people, but you’ll need to start on a smaller scale than everyone else. Try not to feel discouraged when you find it hard to put yourself out there. Just talk to the person next to you in class instead of struggling through huge social gatherings that will be terribly uncomfortable.
And when you finally start adjusting and making friends, please still call your family because they’ll never stop missing you. When everyone repeatedly tells you to enjoy all the time you have left at home, take it seriously. Trust me. It will be the little things that you’ll miss the most, like those friends who are bugging you right now, your mom and dad looking out for you, and your siblings who constantly nag you about finding time to spend together. You’re also going to miss your own bed/room and showering without flip flops. Enjoy and celebrate closing this chapter in your life. The summer before college is maybe the last time you’ll get to really relax, maybe the last time you really feel like you can just be a kid without college graduation looming over your head. Your only worry should be getting in as much time with everyone as possible.
Bottom line: you’re going to get through the journey and from where I sit, our life has been one wonderful learning process at UCLA.