What I Wish I Had Known Before Leaving for College

Justine Yentsch

Next year, I am very excited to see the class of 2018 on campus. I’ve already run into many perspective students on their campus visits and scholarship days, and seeing their enthusiasm for Transy and the years ahead reminds me of when was an incoming student. Before you leave for college, you’re slammed with a TON of advice. So realistically, you probably won’t remember the most (or any) of it. Parents, teachers, relatives, and friends all have their own idea of what college life is like, even if they have never gone themselves. Therefore, their impressions may not necessarily be very helpful. Nevertheless, I’ve discovered that it’s better to learn from your own experiences rather than someone else’s. After all, although the majority of your learning is through academics, when you leave for college you are also transitioning yourself into adulthood, where you have to learn to live independently and confidently.

When I was still in High School, my mental image of “college-me” was very different from what I actually became. A huge amount of my free time was spent between a part-time job and a narrow range of extracurriculars, I didn’t have as diverse of a friend group, and I didn’t really have any time to relax or try out new things. Here at Transylvania, a lot has changed. I’ve branched out into new types of activities instead of feeling obligated to spend all of my time on just one. I have also discovered just how great going to a smaller school is. During the short walk from my dorm to class, I run into at least a few people I know along the way, so I can always count on a smile and a wave from some friendly faces. And by living in the dorms, I can be as introverted or extraverted as I wish. For the times I just want to nap, work independently, or spend hours on my computer, I can stay in my room in my own personalized space. Then when I want to socialize, I can knock on any of my friends’ doors down the hall or leave my door propped open so that people can come in and say hi. You’d also be surprised at how much free time you suddenly have compared to High School. Since a lot of what you do is on campus, you don’t have to go very far to find something fun to do.

To prepare myself for college, I spent a lot of time looking up endless lists of things to pack, things to do, and how to get the most out of your first year. However, most of those ended up being simply common sense and not really telling me much. Being at college is learning how to balance out your life between obligations and things you choose for yourself. Each student’s experience is wildly different, so there isn’t much advice that is one-size-fits-all. Looking back, I should’ve spent less of my summer being apprehensive for school, and more of it creating memories that I would be able to keep for my whole life. It’s perfectly normal to be nervous for your first day of college (who isn’t?), but try not to let it prevent you from living out every experience that comes your way.