Five Ugly Truths About Freshman Year

Last summer, whenever I would announce to (fill-in-the-blank) that I would be a college freshman in the fall, I received the same reaction. My listener’s eyes would glaze over, and an expression of deep reflection would cross his face before he would say, “Man, I wish I was a freshman again. I’d do anything to re-live that year” (or some variation of this). I didn’t doubt it. Every college graduate whom I had met gushed about the first year. Needless to say, my expectations were sky-high. Never again, I thought, will I be surrounded by thousands of people in my age group in an environment that is catered specifically to me. I’m about to get a taste of the freedom that accompanies being away from home while not necessarily having to worry about a full-time job or supporting myself financially.

What could be better?

Sadly, my freshman year wasn’t quite the nine-month vacation I had pictured in my head. Don’t get me wrong, I had a blast and learned a lot that first year. The one thing that I didn’t prepare myself for were the many challenges the year would bring.

Here are five “ugly” truths of freshman year:

1.    You will bring too much stuff: You say you won’t, and you’ll be wrong. Let me tell you right now, you really don’t need to bring the folding card table, the extra wastebasket, your five favorite novels that you insist on bringing “just in case you have some free reading time.” In a college dorm room, less is more. Bring only the essentials and then evaluate what you will need once you see your closet, excuse me, dormitory room. Trust me on this one, your parents will thank you on move-out day.

 2.    You will have no privacy: Forget eating alone, studying alone, or even walking into an empty bathroom. Heck, forget personal space in general. You will be surrounded by people at all times, and you will eventually get used to it. My advice: embrace it. Being surrounded by others is great for your social life, and eventually, you won’t even notice the thirty people who stand around you as you brush your teeth in the morning.

 3.    You will be pressured to conform: At first, everyone is on his or her best behavior. You may feel like you’re walking on eggshells around each new person you meet, gauging their reactions to what you say and do. You will worry about being judged by others, feel the urge to be accepted, and want to conform. Knowing this, make a conscious effort to be yourself from the moment you step onto campus. When you’re the real you, the true friends will follow.

 4.    Your classes will be difficult: Ladies and gentlemen, we aren’t in high school anymore. Be prepared to work harder and for longer periods of time than you did in high school. If you put in the time and effort that your classes require, you should have no problem keeping your grades up. But, please do not make the mistake of thinking that college classes will be “just like high school.” That’s where you’re wrong.

 5.    You will spend too much money: You’ll be shocked at how much money you will spend during the first year. With businesses and restaurants being specifically geared towards a target audience of YOU, they will do anything to get you to spend. Also, textbooks and class materials are huge money suckers. Come up with a budgeting plan, keep all your receipts, and work part-time if you can. That way, you will diminish the feeling of shock at the end of the year when you see the damage to your bank account.

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Emma Weissmann

Emma Weissmann

Emma Weissmann is a sophomore at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign pursuing a degree in News-Editorial Journalism with an interdisciplinary minor in Leadership Studies. Emma enjoys traveling, trying new foods, and snuggling up on the couch with her cat, “Louie.” She also spends her time volunteering and hanging out with family and friends.
Emma Weissmann

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One Response to “Five Ugly Truths About Freshman Year”

  • Katherine Janda on August 18, 2012

    Emma, this is a great article! None of the ‘obvious things’ were really mentioned. It had some original points to make. I’ve frequently made the first mistake many times, not just my freshman year – especially when it came to those “just-in-case” books. Great job!

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