Excited to head out to college next fall? Don’t get me wrong: you should be. The independence, freedom and newness of it all definitely calls for some degree of excitement. Just, maybe take a second to really consider all the imminent changes headed straight for you. With a little mental shift, you can develop a mindset that will better prepare you for some of the adjustments that you may not be quite so happy to make.
Here are 5 Adjustments you may not anticipate before going to college:
1. Getting ready for the day
The root of this reality check is roommates. I never could have predicted that my future would involve channeling my inner mouse to avoid awakening my roommates, stumbling about in the darkness and preparing breakfast as silently as possible. (I still, without fail, woke my roommate every day I reached for the Lucky Charms.) Not to mention, for the sensitive sleepers out there: it gets tough. Sleep won’t ever feel the same. Not with the 5 alarms a roommate sets up because they have trouble getting up and at em’. Or with that one charming sleep talker turned snorer. Trust me, your sleep life will undergo quite a few adjustments in college.
AKA, the most precious commodity you will come to value excessively as every ounce of it gets stripped away from you in college. Many things become precious in college, and alone time is one of them. If you find yourself never alone in your room or a lounge or really anywhere you go, here’s a tip. Enjoy your walks to class.
I recently realized how much I value my walks to and from class when a friend bumped into me. They walked with me all the way back to the dorms. While I love the person, I could not shake the disappointment of my “alone” time being interrupted. I realized that the time spent on these walks is some of the only stress-free-people-free time I get. One when you can listen to your favorite music and completely let go, even if only for 5 minutes.
3. Finding convenient healthy food options
Emphasis on convenient. Healthy options gets tricky sometimes in college. I noticed this especially at UCLA when I have to eat lunch on campus where there are no dining halls. With only food courts, making those healthy choices when I feel like it often transitions into choosing whatever line looks the shortest with only fast food chains and coffee shops around.
4. Finding the will to gym
At the beginning of the year, the gym grind coursed through my blood. Then, the scholastic pressure set in and suddenly it got a little too easy to make that excuse to not go to gym and instead tack on that extra 1-2 hours of work. I did not anticipate rediscovering the will to gym would be a transition in college. Oh boy, was I wrong. I prioritize going to the gym now by reminding myself that self-care in the fast and furious world of college should take precedence.
5. Learning how to manage freedom.
The real temptation lies with wanting to spend time with friends. At home, it may have been simpler: there happens to be parents and curfews and non-self-imposed consequences. Well, in college, there are just real-world consequences. The choices you make look like a free-for-all, which means you have the option to make as many destructive decisions as you do good ones.
I mean sure, you can stay up late. But it really just feeds a never-ending cycle. You stay up late, sleep in, miss class. Not only do you now have to make up for the lecture, but you discover that you slept in for so long that you no longer feel tired at bedtime. Truly, one of the biggest things I have learned is that healthy sleeping habits can make or break success. Yes, social life holds importance, just make sure it is not at the expense of your education.
And so, these are the 5 adjustments I learned from my freshman year of college. While I appreciate the a million and one cool new aspects of my life, I will never forget the learning curve. (One I am still trying to figure out.) Regardless, college is all about balance and it can take time to strike one out for yourself. Just remember to do your best and build an experience you will look back on without regret.