Conquering Freshman Fears

Entering college for the first time is definitely a major life change. You’re (likely) moving out of your house, leaving the K-12 system, leaving your friends, and entering a new chapter of your life. It’s no wonder it can be scary! But know you’re not alone. There are plenty of common fears that new college students share, including fear of failure, homesickness, and more. Here are some of the most common freshman fears you could be facing and how you can overcome them.

8 Common Freshman Fears

1. My Roommate Will be Bad/Annoying/Gross

defining freshman fears.Many times first-year college students do not know the person they will be sharing a dorm room or suite with. This can come with a bit of uncertainty – will they stay up late? Will they annoy me? Will they be gross or inconsiderate? It’s normal to have those questions.

There are a few ways to avoid this worry or overcome this particular fear. Many schools allow you to choose a roommate, for example. If you know someone from your high school is going to the same college as you, you could ask them! You could also meet someone at orientation who you might believe would make a good roommate.

But what if you don’t know the individual at all? Well, you’ll likely get your dorm room assignments ahead of the fall semester. It may be possible to reach out to them and get to know them ahead of time. You might even want to schedule a get-together so you can go shopping for your new dorm or suite.

And if you do end up having a bad roommate, there may be some recourse available. For particularly uncomfortable or awful situations, you can absolutely reach out to your RA or school’s housing department. They will try to remediate the issue first. In extreme circumstances, they will allow you to move to another dorm room. However, if you are stuck with a bad roommate – remember, it’s only for a semester or two. You can absolutely choose a new roommate next year; it could even be a friend of yours!

2. I Won’t Be the Smartest

If you’re coming from the top of your class in high school, you might be a little nervous about how you’ll do in college. You’re not necessarily worried about your intelligence, but rather how you’ll stack up against the other students at your school. What if you’re not the smartest in the room anymore? 

It’s okay to not be the top of the top. This is a common worry intelligent students have and it can lead to issues later in life if it’s not addressed. What happens is the student in question comes from a smaller pool at high school, is in the top percentage grade-wise, and is suddenly met with a much more diverse student body in college. As a result, they can experience issues with self-esteem and burnout as the student believes they’re not as intelligent as they thought or told they were. 

If you’re experiencing this worry, it might be helpful to talk to the school therapist. You are not alone in this fear. Tackling it now, however, can lead to positive outcomes for not only your grades at college, but for later on in life.

3. My Acceptance Letter Was Sent By Accident

The idea that your acceptance letter was sent by accident can be a general fear or it could come from imposter syndrome. This unfounded feeling is where you doubt yourself or your abilities. It can make you feel like you’re a fraud or you are not as talented as people believe you are. Imposter syndrome (and this particular worry) are quite common, even among college graduates!

Thankfully, this actual occurrence that an acceptance letter was sent by accident is extremely rare. And if you were the rare case, you likely would have been informed immediately of the error. If you ever have a question though about admission, you can absolutely reach out to the admissions department.

4. Classes May Be Too Tough for Me

 It’s true – college classes will generally be more difficult than your high school courses. They will require extra work, both in the classroom and out, to earn top grades. It’s important to be properly prepared for this change.

But they likely won’t be too tough for you! College admissions look at your accomplishments, grades, and more to determine if you will be a good fit for the school. They know what they expect from their students and they will not accept someone who they don’t fully believe will succeed in their classes.

If you do find you’re struggling, however, make sure to reach out to your professors or advisor as soon as possible. They can help you access the resources and assistance you need to improve your grades.

5. I Won’t Be Able to Make New Friends

Many students have had the same friend circle since elementary school. Moving off to a new college and area, where you likely don’t know anyone, can be daunting and scary, especially if you haven’t made any new friends recently.

It’s important to remember: much of the student body is in the same boat as you! They are also coming to a completely new area with likely few if any friends. You might find lifelong friends during orientation or your first week of college!

If you are struggling to meet new people, though, try joining clubs or extracurriculars on campus. Choosing one related to your interests is a fantastic way to make new friends, too.

6. I Will Struggle with New Responsibilities

It’s not only a new place you’re facing – you’re facing new responsibilities, too. Students entering college will have to handle their own laundry, eat healthily, keep on top of time management, and budget. If you haven’t had experience with any of these things, you might be feeling a bit overwhelmed.

We highly suggest asking your parents or guardians for help before you move into your dorm room. Ask them to show you how to use the laundry or tackle your budget. For time management, you can also talk to them for tips, but consider using planners to keep on top of your schedule and work.

Many of these new responsibilities don’t have to be learned your very first week. You have time, and mistakes, for the most part, are absolutely okay! Mistakes are how we learn, too. Don’t fret if you don’t know how to handle everything right away.

7. I’m Worried About Money

College is expensive, and many students worry about how they will afford tuition, books, fees, and more. Student loans can cover some of it and help out, but this won’t be enough for the majority. It can get a little scary as loans pile up, too.

There are resources available to help you make college more affordable. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is your first stop. This will not only help you apply for federal student loans, but colleges use it to award grant aid and scholarships. If you didn’t fill it yet for your first year, don’t worry – you have time, but it really does pay to complete it as soon as possible. You should complete your FAFSA every year, too.

In addition, you should be applying for scholarships year round. There are plenty of awards that are dedicated to current college students and there’s no single due date for them.

Many students though still have trouble affording college after grants, scholarships, and loans. If you’re in this boat, you may want to consider getting a part-time job at the college or in the local town or city. You should also learn more about budgeting.

8. I Will Be Homesick

 We touched on it briefly before, but another of the frequent “freshmen fears” is the idea of moving away from home. Being homesick is 100% normal. You can miss your old room, your family, your pets, and your friends.

Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to keep in touch. You can call, email, talk on social media, do video chats, or, of course, visit! Many students go home some weekends – you won’t want to go home every weekend necessarily, as you’ll want to hang out with your friends or complete projects, but you will have opportunities to visit.

Entering college for the first time is a big change. While you’re likely excited, it’s okay to be scared, too. It’s all part of the process! It will get easier as time goes on, too! If you ever, however, feel overwhelmed by the change, responsibilities, or other fears, it’s absolutely okay to reach out for help. Your professors, advisers, and counselors are there for you and want you to succeed. They’ve seen all of these fears and concerns before.

Paying for college is one concern many college freshman fears that students face. Between student loans and scholarships, however, there are ways to tackle that fear. Use College Raptor’s Student Loan Finder and Scholarship Search Tool to make it easier than ever to afford college.

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