13 Tips for Conquering Your College Freshmen Fears

Give yourself a little time to adjust

Multi-ethnic group of students talking outside
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It's totally normal to be nervous about starting college. Your apprehension is a sign that you are interested in doing well and are gearing up for a challenge—the most fruitful college experiences are often the most challenging. Additionally, rest assured that most of your fears will probably fade away after your first few weeks, and even if they don't, most schools have plenty of resources for dealing with common first-year hangups like these.

1. The Admissions Office Let Me in by Accident

No, they didn't. And even if they did, they'd have told you by now.

2. My Roommate Will Be Awful

This is, of course, a possibility, but there's also a good chance you'll get along really well with your roommate or roommates. To give yourself the best chance of having a healthy and successful relationship with your roommates, take the time to correspond with them before school starts. Once you move in, set ground rules for things like sharing food, hosting guests, cleaning up and keeping quiet hours. You could even go so far as to write the rules down in a roommate contract. No matter what happens, do your best to be respectful, and if it doesn't work out, it won't be the end of the world. At the very least, you'll probably learn something from the experience.

3. I'll Have Problems Meeting New People and Making Friends

One important thing to remember is that almost everyone there is new, and virtually no one knows anybody else.

Take a deep breath and introduce yourself to others at orientation, in your classes and on your floor. You can always consider joining social clubs, intramural sports or a student organization, where you're likely to find others who share your interests.

4. I Won't Be Able to Cut It Academically

Of course college will be harder than high school.

But that doesn't mean you will not do well. Prepare yourself for a challenging workload, and if you feel you're underperforming your expectations, ask for help. Your academic adviser can direct you toward relevant resources, like a tutoring center or a fellow student who can help you study.

5. I'm Going to Be Homesick

This is probably true, and that's OK. Even if you're not going away to school, you'll probably end up missing the time you used to have to spend with friends, family and loved ones. The good news: There are lots of ways to maintain relationships with those you care about. Block out time to call your parents, check in with your best friend from high school every few days or even write letters to keep people updated on your college experiences.

6. I'm Concerned About My Finances

This is a very legitimate concern. College is expensive, and you'll likely have to borrow money to cover your costs. But you have to learn to manage your money, and if you haven't started, college is the perfect time to do it. Understanding the specifics of your financial aid package and getting a good on-campus job are smart ways to start getting the hang of personal finance.

7. I Don't Know How I'll Balance So Many Things

Time management is one of the biggest challenges for college students.

But the sooner you work on it, the better prepared you'll be for handling the demands of a full-time job, family commitments and social —you know, adulthood. Experiment with different ways of keeping yourself organized, like making to-do lists, using a calendar, setting goals and assigning priority levels to your tasks. By learning some important time management skills, you can stay on top of your academics and learn how to handle a very demanding schedule while still having fun.

8. I'm Nervous About Being on My Own for the First Time

Being on your own, especially for the first time, is hard. But something inside of you knows you are ready or you wouldn't have wanted to go to college in the first place. Sure, you'll make mistakes along the way, but you're ready to head off on your own. And if not, there are plenty of people and support mechanisms on a college campus to help you out.

9. I Don't Know How to Do Basic Things

Don't know how to cook or do laundry? Trying is a great way to learn. And with the wealth of how-to guides online, you should be able to find plenty of guidance for whatever you're trying to do. Better yet, before leaving for school, have someone teach you how to do laundry. If you're already at school, learn by watching someone or ask for help.

10. I'm Worried About Gaining Weight and the 'Freshman Fifteen'

Most incoming students have heard of the dreaded 15 pounds that every incoming first-year student (supposedly) gains when they start school. While the wealth of food options and busy schedule may make it easier than ever to make unhealthy choices, the opposite is also true: You may have more opportunities than ever to stay active and eat well. Try to plan your meals so you're eating enough whole foods and vegetables, and make it a goal to explore as many recreational activities as you can. Whether it's checking out group fitness classes, joining intramural sports, biking to class or making regular trips to the rec center, you probably have lots of options for staying staying healthy and avoiding the freshman fifteen.

11. I'm Intimidated by Professors

In addition to being incredibly smart and, yes, even intimidating at times, college professors often set aside time for connecting with students. Always make a note of a professor's office hours, and muster up the courage to introduce yourself early on, asking how they prefer their students to ask for help, if necessary. If your professor has an assistant, you may want to try talking to him or her first.

12. I'm Worried About Being Disconnected From My Religious Life

Even at small schools, you may be able to find an organization that caters to and celebrates your religion. See if your school has an office dedicated to spiritual life or browse the student organization list for such groups. If one doesn't exist, why not create one?

13. I Have No Idea What I Want to Do After College

This is a really common fear for incoming students, but if you embrace the uncertainty, you may learn a lot about yourself.

Take a variety of courses in your first year or two, and talk to professors and upperclassmen in subjects you're considering majoring in. Yes, it's important to plan out your course loads and make goals for earning your degree, but don't let the pressure to figure everything out interfere with these valuable years of exploration.