During the summer before my freshman year at Northwestern, I denied the fact that college was just around the corner. It was something I always knew I was going to do, but inside I rejected that it was ACTUALLY going to happen. I don’t do well with change and was terrified to be thrown into an unfamiliar scene. I was used to high school. I knew the teachers, students, building and academic difficulty. Even though I lived just across town, I knew none of those things at Northwestern and had many fears going into my fall semester. Here are some of the fears I had as an incoming freshman and the truths I learned behind them.
I feared I wasn’t going to make any friends. It is scary to not have the friends you have known for years and years in college with you. It can be equally as frightening to want to have a very close friend in this new place, but not know how to find that person. I’m going to let you know that you meet so many people just during freshmen orientation. Whether it’s by forced introduction or happenstance, you are going to meet people and you will continue to meet people through the rest of your college years. You are going to meet new people in classes, sports, campus clubs and activities, dorms, work-studies, even over meals. My advice for you is to not be afraid to introduce yourself to others and, most importantly, don’t forget that every freshman is in the same boat as you.
I feared I wasn’t going to be smart enough. This was by far my biggest fear going into my freshman year. I knew I could handle high school academics and even college-level online courses, but Northwestern’s academic difficulty was a mystery to me. I led myself to believe that I would have piles of homework each night, that the professors would expect me to know things that were far beyond my knowledge, and that I would have to constantly study in order to keep up. I was happy to discover that none of this was true of college. Yes, the courses are more difficult than high school, but Northwestern does a great job of transitioning freshmen into more difficult academics. The professors here want to see you succeed and will help you when you ask for it. If you do your homework, study for tests, and give an effort in your classes, you will be just fine. It’s nothing you can’t handle.
I feared I was going to be overwhelmed and busy. I entered into freshman year with a work-study and a 16-credit fall semester. I worried that between classes and work, I would have too much on my plate.
Oh, silly me.
Although I tend to become stressed quite easily, I was unaware of how much free time I would actually have. My classes did not demand hours upon hours of studying each night and my work-study only required five hours a week from me. This year I learned to pack in more, knowing I could handle more credit hours, activities, and even an internship. Working with a busier schedule requires more time management, but trust me when I say you will not be overwhelmed with just a work-study and classes. I even know many students who balance classes, a work-study, and their sport(s) and still have time to be involved in fun ways on campus. Do not be afraid to get involved and join different activities or clubs on campus. You will have time for them.