Okay, no problem. You’ve got your class schedule in your front pocket. Plenty of pens, pencils, and erasers, as well as your laptop and the first lunch of your college career, along with several binders and textbooks are all crammed into your bag. Your back hurts, but you put it out of your mind as you join the mass of people pouring onto your college campus. With map in hand, your heart beating The Ride of the Valkyrie in your chest, and your hair perfectly coifed, you hope that you will be able to find your class quickly.
The first days of college classes can be stressful enough to thin one’s hair, but the truth is, you can just relax. Here is what you can expect from those first few days, and now that you will soon know what to expect, you can take it easy.
Most universities and colleges have prioritized class registration, and incoming freshmen are the last on the priority list. Thus, first-year students might end up with a schedule that does not match their ideal. Don’t worry about it; many students end up shuffling their schedules in the first few days of class. In fact, a spot could even open up in that fencing class you really wanted to get into! So plan on being flexible and familiarize yourself with the protocols involved in dropping and adding classes. That way, when the first few days of classes roll around, you can go class shopping and end up with a pretty great schedule.
Unless you are at a very small community college, you are probably going to have trouble finding at least one of your classes. The truth is that sometimes the Theater 101 class is held in the basement of the Mathematics Building. You can also expect to not be able to decipher the sometimes cryptic maps that are usually available in your campus bookstore. The best way to plan ahead for these issues is to actually show up to campus a day or two early. Have your class schedule in hand and track down all of your classrooms.
Of course, if you end up changing classes, you might still find yourself getting lost, but it won’t be so bad. If you get turned around and have no idea where to go, swallow your pride and ask someone. Chances are they will be happy to help.
Unless you are privileged or lucky enough to have total control over who you room with, be it on campus or off, you will probably end up with at least one interesting character in your apartment. It might be that they love garlic, enjoy trying other people’s toothbrushes, or are oblivious to your presence. Whatever the case may be, go into your apartment with the expectation that this can happen and with the plan to take it in stride. Getting to know new people is one of the grand adventures that await you in college, so get to know your weird roommate. You may even become good friends!
Homesickness usually kicks in at about the same time that the homework load gets massive. We long for the simplicity of high school existence or of the life we had before college messed everything up. If you know that this feeling is going to come crashing in, you can be prepared for it! Have a plan in place to call your family or friends at least once each week. Commit to sticking to it for the semester or term, and you will find that homesickness will not lay you low.
Okay, you actually shouldn’t expect freedom. You should expect to feel as if you are free and can do whatever you want. But you cannot forget that you have chosen to go to college, and there are a lot of responsibilities that come with this choice. So be aware of the fact that you will want to stay up until late and fool around whenever you want, but gird up your sense of diligence and get into the good study and work habits right away. That student loan you got really should be used for necessities, not partying.
Confusion is your happy companion during the first few days of classes at college as well. When you step into your Physics 101 class and whip out your snazzy Bic pen and college lined paper, ready to take notes, often you will find yourself staring at the professor as if he is a Martian. Seriously. Those first few days it sometimes feels like the professors are speaking a language other than the one everybody else speaks. The subject will seem opaque, and the material will seem too advanced. The amount of reading you have to do will add to this confusion, because you won’t be sure what facts you need to retain.
Just take a deep breath and let yourself settle in. Good professors know that students need a couple days to get into the groove, so they allow for this confusion. After you are comfortable in your classes and have spent some time in the material, you will find that your brain is able to switch into the language of your subjects with little problem.
So there you have them; six wonderful warnings about what to expect from your first days at college. Now that you know, pass them on!