By Alli Van Roekel, Senior Coach and Facilitator with Equip 2 equip LLC December 7th, 2015
College is an amazing time of learning, growing and developing independence. Full of excitement, new challenges and broadening of horizons, college can almost be a culture-shock experience for some students. Personally, I had very little conversation with adults that summer before college that was preparing me for that environment. Most of that summer was spent working to earn money, and gathering my laundry basket full of personal items for the new dorm room that I would call home. In retrospect, there are some things I wish someone would have shared with me to prepare me emotionally, mentally and socially for the next chapter of my life.
- No one will force you to go to class or do your homework. College is your first real test of personal discipline. If you don’t show up to class, your professor will not call your parents. If you don’t study, you will not get to retake your test. If you don’t turn in homework, no one will remind you. They will just fail you.
- Expect your values to be challenged. College will likely expose you to some new lifestyles and philosophies. You will feel challenged both by your peers and your professors. These challenges can be disorienting. Your peers may pressure you to engage in risky behavior, or just criticize the way you think because they are figuring out who they are, too. Professors want you to learn to think for yourself, so they will challenge you to explore why you believe what you believe. If you find yourself getting lost and confused, that’s normal—just make sure to process these challenges with someone older and wiser that you trust.
- Choosing a major is not a life or death decision. In my freshman year, my advisor forced me to pick my major so we could lay out my 4-year curriculum plan. I’d never been so stressed out in my life. Don’t worry, changing majors will not ruin your life. Most people do it. The key here is to gain experience and discover what you are passionate about, and get some coaching on what major is really a good fit for your strengths and passions.
- Independence doesn’t mean throwing out everything your parents taught you. Once you get that taste of freedom away from your parents’ rules, it’s easy to just throw away their “outdated” views. However, true independence is not rebellion from your parents’ teaching. Independence is defined as “free from outside control; not depending on another’s authority”. What this is really saying is that you are acting on your own behalf and expressing your own values. By continuing to hold fast to good things your parents taught you doesn’t make you less of an individual…it just means you are admitting on some things…they were right!
- Choose your crowd wisely. Contrary to what every movie, TV show and media outlet would lead you to believe, you don’t have to party until you black out every night at college. Not every student is at college to act like a wild animal. The truth is, drinking too much is EXTREMELY dangerous, not only because you could get alcohol poisoning, which can be fatal, but because there is a strong association with drinking and risky sexual behavior, including rape. No buts about it, this is serious. Proceed with caution!
College has the potential to be one of the best seasons of your life. Just make sure to seek out some wisdom, and have lots of conversations with people you trust! Oh, and I asked around in my circle, and they had some great advice for you as well. Stay tuned…I will be sharing their thoughts in the coming days.