By Mac Pomeroy
Bridging the gap from high school to college can be a huge and stressful deal. Suddenly, you go from seeing the same people every day and having the same daily routine to being thrown into a crowd of thousands of people who have no idea who you are or what you are good at.
It can be a lot, and you may start to wonder if you are even ready for all of this. Even surrounded by this many people, you feel alone and like you just don’t fit in.
One of the most important things to do when beginning college is to realize you aren’t going to fit in, at least not in the same sense as high school. Unlike the social circles before, college is a new start. There will be people of all different backgrounds and fields with their own separate schedules to tend to.
Following the flow of these schedules will be really challenging the first few days. Trying to get around campus and maneuver your way through the crowds can be tough. Eventually, you will get used to it all and find yourself getting along and paying attention to your own business.
Fitting in is not the same in college. Unlike high school — where kids have time to judge and fuss — college students are much more focused on their own work. They are are starting independent lives and need to pay attention to that first.
When I started my first year, I was very anxious. I was used to years of constantly being watched and judged against others. I was worried I would not make any friends or I would spend my years here alone.
I realized, however, that no one paid any attention to what I was doing. It was not that I was being ignored. People were still friendly and gave passing nods and smiles. Instead, it was that no one cared what I was doing.
I also realized people grow up in college. In some ways this may seem much better, but it also might make you feel even more alone. Can you make friends with people who are too busy to spare you a second thought? Before it seemed like you just sat beside someone and started talking. Unfortunately, the person you are sitting beside now has their head in their textbook.
This is where you will need to make more of an effort. Joining clubs and activities can be a great way to help with this, as you can be sure the people there have similar interests and are open to making new friends.
If that isn’t your thing, you can also try the old-fashioned method of just walking up to someone. There are thousands of people on campus, so you have plenty of opportunities. Once you do find people who understand and appreciate you, you will feel much more welcome.
I found my place quicker than I thought I would. From sitting down and talking to friendly faces in Cushwa Hall, to discovering opportunities and groups that I did not previously consider, I began to feel comfortable. Once I dropped my fears and began to explore what college has to offer, everything seemed to click into place.
Yes, the switch from dealing with high schoolers to college students can be drastic, but that doesn’t mean you will never adjust. You just need to be open to the fact that things are different now. Everyone else is just as busy and stressed with their lives as you are, so don’t worry.
You made it into college; you got this far. Just go out and try your best.