There are definitely perks to having older siblings around. I graduated high school believing that I had a decent grasp on what college would be like. I was doubly blessed because I had two older sisters who went to different schools and had different experiences. However, I was going into uncharted territory. Both of them had gone to schools where the entire population was smaller than my first-year class. With a large pool of students and instructors, there were things I wish I had known that they just couldn’t tell me. So this is my attempt fill in that older sister role and help you out.
Your social life is not the same.
First things first, college social life isn’t like high school. In high school, you probably saw your friends at some point every day. Maybe you had lunch together, were in the same history class, or you took choir together. Even just seeing each other in the hallways was usually enough for me and my high school friends. In college, though, there were weeks when I didn’t see anyone in my friend group, and I lived with three of them.
Schedules can get really weird, and if you and your friends aren’t in the same major, it might be hard to line up times to hang out (for example, if you’re friends with people in theatre or marching band or some such activity, there are going to be times when they can’t see you. Period). Try not to be discouraged when plans don’t work out. So long as you’re persistent, things will eventually happen. The important thing is to be understanding and flexible because I can guarantee you that at some point you will have to be turning your friends down to study.
Another thing I wish my sisters had told me is that it’s okay to give yourself breaks every once in a while. Giving yourself an opportunity to de-stress, whether that’s going out for a night, reading a book for fun, whatever, is an integral part of not overworking yourself. College can be difficult at times; having an escape route that you can disappear into for a little bit helps to overcome that. Of course, too much of a good thing can hurt, so be sure to monitor yourself and make sure you’re still getting those homework assignments done.
Talk to your professors.
One of the biggest things I’m surprised my sisters never mentioned is this: Talk to your professors, regardless of how you are doing in a class. Office hours are there for you to take advantage of if you need help with any of the material. Also, most professors I had were willing to give advice if you were trying to figure out what direction you wanted to go in. True, that’s kind of what your academic advisor is for, but it’s always nice to talk to someone you know who works in a particular field.
My professor for Clinical Psychology advised me on how to get research experience and was helpful in clarifying what different fields in Psychology do. Another important reason for getting to know your professors is that if you ever need referral letters, you have options to choose from. Those options come in handy if you plan to go on to grad school or want to obtain grants and scholarships.