Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting College

If you plan on attending college, know that the time of your life that you'll be entering is like none other.

You've probably already heard that before, but it usually doesn't come with any tips on things that might surprise you about those four years. TV and movies hardly give an accurate representation of college life, especially when it comes to the personal changes you might notice during that time.

A woman student smiles on a sunny day while holding her books

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As the first person in my immediate family to go to college, and someone who packed my things and moved off to a dorm before I even turned 18, I can certainly say my vision of college and the reality I actually experienced were quite different (to say the least). That isn't a bad thing though, and honestly, everyone's experience is different and can vary greatly based on the specific university you attend and so much more. With that said, I'm here to help you out with some things I wish I had known before starting college:

It's Okay to Feel Homesick—and It's Also Okay to Not 

For many of us, college is the first time in our lives when we're truly living away from home. That comes with good parts and bad parts, and the bad parts can lead a lot of people to feel homesick every once in a while. However, some of us just don't experience homesickness in the same way, if at all. Personally, I pretty much never felt homesick. For a while that almost made me feel guilty, but really it was just related to how busy I kept myself in order to fully adapt to this new stage of life.

A woman looks stressed while looking down at her phone

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Your Opinions Are Probably Going to Shift, and They Might Change a Lot

The point of college is to get an education, but it's also about so much more than just that. Along with the fact that you're literally there to learn new information (information which can often make you change your mind on things you grew up thinking), you're also going to be meeting people who likely come from a world away from your hometown. These people have different life experiences and opinions that may lead to you quickly shifting your own. The key is to remain open-minded—after all, this is the time you really develop into your true self. For me, I had always sought out people who were different from me when it came to my friends and those I surrounded myself with. That became even more true with the people I met in college, and combined with the knowledge I gained from my classes really helped me shift my perspective on so many important things that still matter to me now.


You're Going to Surprise Yourself

College is a unique period full of self-discovery, in terms of big things and small things. I knew going into university that things would be different—I'd be living with roommates for the first time, having classes that didn't start at 7:30 in the morning, would be surrounded by people from all over and wouldn't have to tell my parents about my every action—but I didn't know just how different. College you is a different person than high school you, and you may end up surprising yourself in good ways and bad. Your comfort zone will be challenged, shifted and probably broken down, but the experiences will shape your future and your sense of self in so many ways. Just remember to stop before doing anything that pushes you too far past your comfort zone, and don't let peer pressure be the thing that causes you to surprise yourself.

Two college roommates relax on their new dorm beds

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Basically, in college you will be in a completely unique phase of life that comes with an entire collection of benefits and downsides. The beauty of it is that you get to discover it all for yourself! The biggest thing I wish I'd known going in is that so many opportunities will be presented to you, whether that be to study abroad (do it) or to change your major to something that completely switches your life path after college. It's a wild ride that is all your own, but it's worth every twist and turn for who you become at the end.


Still freaking out about going off to college soon? No need to freak out, just check out these tips to help you with pre-college stress by clicking HERE.