It's totally normal to be nervous about starting college. Your apprehension is a sign that you are interested in doing well and are gearing up for a challenge—the most fruitful experiences are often the most challenging. Most of your fears will probably fade away after your first few weeks, and if they don't, most schools have plenty of resources for dealing with common first-year worries.
Here are 13 common worries that crop up in the minds of college freshmen:
1. I Was Admitted by Accident
This is a common concern, but an extremely uncommon occurrence. Rest assured, it is unlikely you were admitted by accident, and if you had been, you would have been informed by now.
2. My Roommate Will Be Awful
This is, of course, a possibility, but there's also a good chance you'll get along really well with your college roommate or roommates. To give yourself the best chance of having a healthy and successful relationship with your roommates, try to communicate with them before school starts. Once you move in, discuss ground rules for things like sharing food, hosting guests, cleaning, and quiet hours. You might even go so far as to write the rules down in a roommate contract. No matter what happens, do your best to be respectful, and if it doesn't work out, you may have an opportunity to change roommates sophomore year. At the very least, you'll probably learn something from the experience.
3. I Won't Make New Friends
One important thing to remember is that virtually everyone is new, and almost no one knows anybody else. Take a deep breath and introduce yourself to others at orientation, in your classes, and on your floor. Consider joining social clubs, intramural sports, or a student organization where you're likely to find others who share your interests.
4. I'm Not Smart Enough
Of course, college will be harder than high school, but that doesn't mean you won't do well. Prepare yourself for a challenging workload, and if you feel you're performing below your expectations, ask for help. Your academic adviser can direct you toward relevant resources, like a tutoring center or a fellow student who can help you study.
5. I'll Be Homesick
This is true of many college freshmen, and it's completely normal. Even if you're not going away to school, you'll probably end up missing the time you used to have to spend with friends, family, and loved ones. The good news is there are lots of ways to maintain relationships with those you care about. Block out time to call your parents, check in with your best friend from high school every few days, or email those you want to stay in touch with about your college experience.
6. I'm Worried About Money
College is expensive, and this is a legitimate concern. You may have to borrow money to cover your education costs. But learning to manage your money is a life skill that you'll need to know. If you haven't started learning about budgeting your money, college is the perfect time to start. Understanding the specifics of your financial aid package and getting a good on-campus job are smart ways to start getting the hang of personal finance.
7. I Don't Know How to Juggle All My Commitments
Time management is one of the biggest challenges for college students. But the sooner you work on it, the better prepared you'll be for handling the demands of a full-time job, family, and social commitments. Experiment with different ways of keeping yourself organized, like making to-do lists, using a calendar, setting goals, and assigning priority levels to your tasks. By learning some important time management skills, you can stay on top of your academics and learn how to handle a demanding schedule while still having fun.
8. I've Never Been on My Own Before
Being on your own, especially for the first time, is hard. But something inside of you knows you are ready or you wouldn't have wanted to go to college in the first place. Sure, you'll make mistakes along the way, but you're ready to head off on your own. And if you're struggling, there are plenty of people and support mechanisms on a college campus to help.
9. I Can't Do Basic Tasks
Don't know how to cook or do laundry? Trying is a great way to learn. And with the wealth of how-to guides online, you should be able to find plenty of guidance for whatever you're trying to do. Better yet, before leaving for school, have someone teach you how to do laundry. If you're already at school, learn by watching someone else or ask for help.
10. I Might Gain Weight
Most incoming students have heard of the dreaded 15 pounds that some incoming first-year students gain when they start school. While the wealth of food options and a busy schedule may make it easier than ever to make unhealthy choices, the opposite is also true: You may have more opportunities than ever to stay active and eat well. Try to plan your meals so you're eating enough whole foods and vegetables, and make it a goal to explore as many recreational activities as you can. Whether it's checking out group fitness classes, joining intramural sports, biking to class, or making regular trips to the recreation center, you'll have plenty of options for staying healthy and avoiding the freshman 15.
11. I'm Intimidated by My Professors
In addition to being incredibly smart and, yes, even intimidating at times, college professors often set aside time for connecting with students. Make a note of each professor's office hours, and muster up the courage to introduce yourself early on, asking how they prefer their students to ask for help if needed. If your professor has an assistant, you may want to try speaking with him or her first.
12. I Want to Stay Connected to My Faith
Even at small schools, you may be able to find an organization that caters to and celebrates your religion. See if your school has an office dedicated to spiritual life or browse the student organization list for such groups. If one doesn't exist, why not create one?
13. I Don't Know What to Do After College
This is a common fear for incoming students, but if you embrace the uncertainty, you may learn a lot about yourself. Take a variety of courses in your first year or two, and talk to professors and upperclassmen in subjects you're considering majoring in. While it's important to plan out your course load and set goals for earning your degree, don't let the pressure to figure everything out interfere with these valuable years of exploration.