College: you are on your own

Caroline Schaeffer
Contributing Writer

When the idea of going to college stops being just a dream in the distance and suddenly becomes a reality, you’ll hear the same thing from a lot of different people. You’ll hear about how much fun you’re going to have, all the people you’re going to meet and, most importantly, how much better it is than high school. Sure, some of the differences are obvious; in college you have more freedom, less class time and, unfortunately, more homework, but there are many more changes than those.

Though I am still new to the whole college experience, I have already noticed some drastically different qualities of my life away at college than my life at home. For me, the biggest adjustment to college is definitely the fact that this is the first time in my life that I am left utterly alone. No friends or family to lean on for support.

Every time I made a big life change prior to heading off to college, I always had a support system standing right behind me. When I first left my parents for a week to go to sleepaway camp, I had friends on either side of me to keep me company and I knew that I would see my parents seven days later. When I left middle school and started my first year of high school, almost all of my friends came with me, and my mom and dad were home every night to help me through any difficulties I might be having. Through everything I had experienced up until August of this year, I had a huge support network at my fingertips at all times, and to suddenly lose that is a bit of a rude awakening.

Though college is by no means a sinister place full of people looking to drag you down, when you first realize your parents aren’t picking you up anytime soon, it can be a hard concept to grasp. Sure, they are only a phone call away, but they can no longer help you out as much as they used to. Have a problem with a teacher you just can’t solve? A note from mom won’t help you out. It’s not until you go away from home that you realize how much your parents did for you, and how comforting it was knowing they were never far away.

Leaving friends can be just as difficult as leaving family, but for different reasons. Friends are like a security blanket: always there for you whenever you might need them. It was a luxury to be so close to people who have known me my entire life and whom I could hang around effortlessly. It’s exciting to come to college, meet new people and make amazing friends, but that is a process that takes time. You’re never going to be automatically comfortable around someone you’ve just met, and realizing this was one of the hardest things I’ve had to come to terms with so far.

Everything about college is so different from high school, from the classes you take to the time you go to bed; it’s all up to you. Although it takes a while to adjust to many different aspects of the college experience, the hardest for me so far has definitely been adapting to being left on my own for the first time in my life, and learning that even though my family and friends back home are still around, they’re not here to help me every step of the way.

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