College Isn’t as Scary as You Think: Tips From a New Freshman

Abbie Cochrane / Southern Utah University »

This article was originally published on Southern Utah University’s T-Bird Nation Blog in October 2021.

My biggest advice for new freshmen? Try everything. Even if you think you’ll hate it or that you won’t be good at it. Try it. Don’t miss out on something because someone else told you that you shouldn’t. After all, those people aren’t the ones paying for you to be here–you are. So get your money’s worth.

I want you to imagine this scenario; you just finished moving in. You stand outside your college dorm building and watch Mom and Dad speed away in the car, leaving you alone. All weekend leading up to the first day of college, you are itching with anticipation. “What if I don’t make any friends? What if I get lost and completely miss my class? What if, what if, what if?!”

To every soon-to-be college freshman, want to know a secret? All these “what if’s” are stopping you from getting the big picture. What is the big picture? College is NOT as scary as it is hyped up to be. How do I know all this? That’s even easier; because I’ve been there.

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Abbie Cochrane and I’m a new freshman at Southern Utah University! I’m a Theatre Arts major from Holladay, Utah just outside of Salt Lake City. I’m here to say that for all of you new freshmen feeling scared out of your mind to start preparing for college, I completely get it. I know exactly what it’s like to be terrified to start a new life at college. The weeks leading up to college were one of the most stressful times of my life. I couldn’t sleep, barely ate, and I was anxious. All. The. Time. That is, until I actually got here. Now I’ve come to realize that college isn’t so scary, and that it’s all about what you make of it.

College Advice for Every New Freshman

Keep Your Cool

In the days leading up to your big move and the first day of class, remember to breathe every once in a while. No need to get anxious, because you’ve started a new school before! Think about how scared you were going into middle school or high school. Then think about how you made it through all of that. You graduated, you got into college, and now you’re on your way. You’ve done everything you need to. Inhale. Exhale. You got this.

Solidify a Routine

Pick a day of the week when you can clean your dorm, do your laundry, check your P.O. Box (if you have one), and pick up groceries. These don’t all have to be done on the same day, but it’s nice to have a set plan for what needs to be done and when. Maybe make a list in your phone of groceries you need to buy or set a weekly reminder in your calendar so you know when you need to deep-clean your bathroom. Collaborate with your roommates so that the work can get done quicker.

Get to Know Your Roommates

Speaking of roommates, it’s a good idea to befriend yours. These are the people you’ll be living with for the rest of the school year, so might as well try to all get along. Be flexible and cooperative with each other, but be sure to set reasonable boundaries too. These boundaries might involve using other people’s things or when it’s okay to blast music and when it’s time to turn it off. Make sure that everyone’s expectations are seen, respected, and followed 100% of the time.

Sort Out Your Priorities

Remember, the reason you are here is for school, so that should be priority number one. This isn’t to say “stay in your room and study 24/7,” but it is a good idea to get homework out of the way before partying or going out with friends. If it’s easier, you can divide up your homework so you do a certain amount a day, just be sure to stick to that schedule and get everything in on time.

Don’t Be a Turtle

Making new friends is one of the most common fears among new college students. Human interaction can make some people’s skin crawl and make them want to hide in their shell. Newsflash! Everyone is feeling just as scared and under pressure as you are. Ease the tension a little bit by introducing yourself to your classmates and getting to know them. Tell them about yourself and see what you have in common. You’d be surprised how quickly people can warm up to you with just a simple, “Hi, what’s your name?”

Above all, NEVER let the fear of missing the goal stop you from taking the shot. The best way to discover yourself is to try. You learn about yourself, and how you can use those talents to make a change and do something amazing. And don’t think for one second that you can’t make a difference because you most certainly can. It’s your job to be astonishing.

College is just the next step in your education and the start of something big. It’s the place where you make lifelong friends and embark on the path to your career. With hard work and determination, you will soar in college, and all that fear will feel like a lifetime ago.