A Letter to the Uncertain
Dear New Student,
Your excitement of graduating high school and getting out of your parent’s house is NOW a reality. You’ve had dialogue with your peers about what you couldn’t wait to do, what you couldn’t wait to see and who was attending your same school of choice. You’ve done your shopping for your dorm room décor, school supplies and new clothes to make your first, lasting impressions on the other freshmen for the first day class or the BIG back to school bash. Fast forward to a week or months later of your first year of being a college student and you’re beginning to have doubts about the “College Life”. The doubts come from several angles. One being the feeling of not always knowing if what you’re doing is right or acceptable. Another will be the wonder of if you’re in the right major and taking the correct classes. Most importantly, is the fear or uncertainty if you can handle the course load the more you attend classes and the assignments keep coming.
The shift from excitement to anxiety hits immediately in several forms. You’re excited to no longer have anyone tell you what you need to do, where you need to be or question why haven’t you done this and that. Anxiety hits when you realize the grades aren’t looking like you think they should and the classwork continues to pile up. The biggest shocker to you will be the care you think your professors or others don’t’ have about your progress; when ultimately they have an expectation of you. Even in your uncertainty; there is still an expectation. You fear the failure to adapt to the transition from dependent to independent, the importance of accountability and responsibility and feeling as if you belong.
Uncertainty isn’t a bad place to be during your first year of college, however, you must face that you need assistance figuring this thing out. It can be very scary in the beginning. For starters, talk about the fears and uncertainties so that you can be guided and helped properly. Visit and schedule an appointment with the department offering your degree and your academic advisors. In that moment ask questions and discuss what you think your future goals are, because if the dialogue doesn’t align with the program you may need to change your major while its’s still early. Outside of the classroom, maximize your college experience by getting involved. Join student organizations, maybe one academic and one social in your first year so that you are pushed to grow, you learn more of who you are and it will reveal other abilities you possess. Most importantly, there are resources available on most campuses that willingly aid in helping first timers, adapt and gain the tools necessary to succeed. A few of these resources include: tutoring, reading and writing lab, counseling services, testing centers and much more.
Not knowing exactly how things will run or what the outcomes may be can place a level of fear or uncertainty on you as a person/student that causes you not to perform your best academically and engage poorly, socially. Also through this stripping and finding your way and what works for you; you will also know if college may or may not be for you. This doesn’t mean college may not be for you at all; just maybe not at this moment or maybe. It is a great responsibility and expectation even as you fight your way through the first year; figuring you, the right degree path and ultimately if this is a commitment you are willing to take. Uncertainty isn’t an end, it’s the beginning of something evolving. Embrace it, learn within it and then expound.
You Got This!
Ala’Torya V. Cranford