Your entire senior year of high school was spent taking tests, writing essays, feverishly applying to your dream schools and back-ups, and incessantly checking your mailbox for “just an answer either way, please” responses. You decided on a college, and whether you went for your dream university or settled on a second choice with better financial aid, you’ve made it. Congratulations!
Now, as it’s time to move in and start classes, I have to give you a fair warning: Not everything is going to be perfect. Something at some point in your new stage of college adulthood is going to go badly; at the very least, it’s going to be different than you anticipated.
At the time, these events will seem huge, but as any cliché would suggest, the best is yet to come. Here are some survival tips to consider before throwing in the towel.
1. Be Okay with Changing Your Mind
Let me give you an example. My first semester of school, I had one of those life-changing existential crises. (Turns out it was pretty trivial — who knew?) In short, while sitting in one of my major elective classes, I realized that I hated everything I was learning. I’d wanted to be a psychiatrist for as long as I could remember, and I hated it. This was a make or break moment I chose not to ignore.
2. Take Actionable Steps
After class, I grabbed a coffee and pulled myself together. I realized that the negativity stemming from my unhappiness in my program impacted my well-being in a major way. I had to make a change. I emailed my academic advisor to make an appointment about my future in the program. I dreaded this conversation, thinking she would hate me or worse — convince me to stay in a program I wasn’t passionate about. Regardless of what could potentially happen, I knew it was a conversation that had to happen.
3. Be Flexible
My academic advisor and I discussed different career paths, new majors and how I could implement these changes without hurting myself academically or emotionally. I signed the forms needed to change my major and felt an instant sense of relief that only increased once I settled into my new major the following semester.
4. Give Yourself Time
Life happens in college. Moments of intense unpredictability are abundant, but will ultimately show you what you’re made of. Try to trust in what got you to this point and don’t hesitate using the resources at hand. Pace yourself and your decisions because things will get better.
The four (or five) years you spend in college are life changing. You’ll graduate, move into a career in your chosen field, and the cycle of unpredictability may very well start again. But, next time you’ll know to give it some time, take a deep breath, and remind yourself that you’re exactly where you need to be.
Cover image courtesy of Shutterstock.