Managing the Terrifying Leap to College

Like many seniors, Mary Martin is facing the realization that in just a few months everything will be different. She said, “I think about it all the time. It’s very stressful. Especially when you don’t have a car and can’t go to work to make money.” Because it all felt overwhelming and she wants to be sure she makes a choice that is right for her, for now Mary has hit the pause button on college and is planning to take a year off. She says, “I think there is way too much pressure on high school students to go to college. Everyone just needs to do what makes them happy.”

Senior Zach Vandermeer has also decided on a route that feels less stressful than a complete change. He says he is not scared about graduating because it won’t be that big of a shift since he will be still living at home while attending College classes at Southern Maine Community College (SMCC), and working at Target.

On the other hand going away to college is what makes some students happy such as, Senior Zach Robinson. Robinson is headed to college in the fall and thinks that he will spend around $500 in back to school shopping. He plans on buying new decorations because he doesn’t want to have the same things in his dorm room that he has in his room right now and of course “industrial size shampoo”.  He says he hasn’t started making a list yet, but has talked with my parents.

Robinson said, he is still deciding what his major will be. “It depends on the college I chose to go to, but either education or dance, like teaching dance. I tell Emma (his dance teacher Mrs. Campbell Arenstam) everyday ‘I am going to take your job.’ ”

Many seniors like Robinson will spend the spring and summer preparing to pack up their rooms, thinking about their future and finally heading to a college. For some of these students, older siblings and friends who graduated in earlier years can be a huge help in guiding them through the transition. These experienced college students can help them figure out their own game plan.

Most college freshmen do not have the choice as to stay in the dorms or off campus. Community colleges have that choice, but most college don’t have that choice as freshman.

Junior Sara Tsomides says her sister advised her not to room with friends. Junior Meagan Yudacon said, ” I’ve watched 3 siblings go through this process which will hopefully make it easier for me because I known what their setbacks were so I am going to try avoid them.”

Senior Alexis Dapolito has been forewarned to pay careful attention to FAFSA deadlines to ensure you can get any deserved financial aid and qualify for scholarships.

Preparing for heading off to college can be expensive as well as stressful–a cost of college that many families don’t consider until they are standing in Target in August! An ABC news report by Paula Faris in 2013 found that according to the National Retail Federation, college students and their families spent nearly $46 billion on back to college supplies that summer, an average of $836.83 per family.

So not only can advice from previous alums help you feel more secure about the transition, it may also help you save money.

Recently graduated Sydney Curran’s advice for college freshman is to bring the correct size bedding for your dorm bed. She said  you don’t want to get to college and realize that you don’t have the correct size bedding. Incoming students can find out their dorm room mattress size directly from the campus housing office to avoid expensive mistakes. While many twin mattresses are 39×75 inches, often dorm mattresses are extra long 39 x80 meaning a different size sheet is needed unless you want the bed folding up like a clam! If you are going to college that is far away it would be unfortunate if brought the wrong size sheets because then you would have to either go to the nearest store and buy different sheets or wait for a new pair of sheets come in the mail from your parents.

Food that is common in the area that you currently live may not be common in the area that you go to school. A few examples from Curran “there are no humpty dumpty chips down here in Pennsylvania and I didn’t know that until my roommate and I went shopping after our first week here.” So if certain foods are comforting or essential to your daily routine, you might bring your own stash.

She is happy she brought along storage for clothes like a trunk for her shoes, plenty of hangers and tubs for my clothes and towels.

Curran suggests bringing things that will make you feel comfortable and at home such as “your favorite books and movies, they’ll make you feel safe and are a comfort when first transitioning from being at home all of the time to being, like me, 460 miles away.” In her opinion you can only bring too many things if you have things that you don’t use everything regularly, or if you take up the entire room with your possessions.

The most essential things Curran brought to college is the technology she invested in and brought from home. “As a creative writing major, my godsend is my laptop and my printer. Here at Susquehanna, and most likely at other colleges, you are charged for using printing. By having my printer, I can save my printing money for 15-page stories instead of wasting it on a page outline for my Italian course. Also, even though our computer lab is three minutes from my residence hall and is open 24/7, having my laptop right on my desk helps me write down an idea, whether it be for a story for my major courses or an idea for a research paper, I won’t run the risk of forgetting the exact wording of what I want to say.”All of us together (1)

While what “things’ are important will be different to every college freshman, Curran reminds nervous graduating seniors who are worried about what to pack that the most important thing to “bring is a good attitude.The college you choose will most likely be your home for four years, unless you choose to transfer. A few of my friends experienced horrible homesickness at the beginning of the year and it took away from the fun of our entire class.”

Things not to forget would be phone, and laptops and their chargers. “You do not want to get to school, realize you don’t have them, and have to wait for your parents to mail them to you,” Curran says

Sydney thinks the easiest way to make the transition smooth is to get to know your roommate before you meet him/her on the first day. “You definitely should contact your roommate before starting school. Amrita and I didn’t meet through random roommate assignment. We met by the SU Class of 2018 Facebook group, so we had three months to get to know each other before the people who went the random route found out…Bond over the little things first then build your relationship from there.”

Baby Syd and I (1)“My roommate, Amrita, and I are very good friends. We bonded over our obsession of Harry Potter and we really balance each other out: her being more realistic while I’m more conceptual and we really bring out the best in each other. She’s one of the biggest reasons for my growing up as a human being since by being roommates with someone, you learn on conflict management and co-existing with someone who grew up completely different from how you did.” Curran is an example of how your roommate can be your best friend, and how to have a bond that will last. If your college gives incoming freshman the option to choose a roommate, you might consider taking your future in your own hands and reaching out via social media to people who you think might be a good match.

Senior Suki Chau says that she loves to travel to relieve the stress from the college and transition and just have fun with her senior year. Suki went to Boston this past February with a few friends, and plans on going to either Chicago or L.A. in April. She also enjoys dancing, and singing. As you can see here from Suki although your senior year is important for the college transition it is also important to have fun, and leave time for enjoying yourself, and having fun with friends.

 

 

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