6 Things Nobody Tells You Before Coming to College (But Should)

With high school behind you and your freshman year of college looming, you can almost taste the sweet freedom coming your way.

Family and friends are always full of advice as you prepare to go off on your own. Unfortunately, they probably haven’t been to college for a few years (or decades), and things are a bit different now.

So, while they’ll tell you to put your studies first and always wear clean underwear, the chances are pretty good they won’t tell you these six real-world facts.

1. “Adulting” is a lot harder than you think.

After spending your entire life at home, you’re in for a bit of a rude awakening.

Yes, you will be able to do whatever you want, whenever you want to do it (within reason). But, in exchange, you have to get yourself out of bed in the morning, feed yourself, and do your own laundry. You will have to make decisions that affect your future, budget your money, and figure out how to meet deadlines.

As much as this might stink at the time, remember that you’re building important life skills that will serve you well.

2. You’re going to be scared and it’s okay.

Going off to college is probably the scariest thing you’ll ever do.

You’re going to be scared about finding your classes and whether your new roommate will hate you or keep you up all night with her snoring. You’re going to worry about passing tests and balancing school with a job and a social life.

Don’t fight the fear. Embrace your anxiety and listen to your inner voice. Take things day-by-day or, if necessary, hour-by-hour. Whatever fears are wearing on your mind, just remember that this, too, shall pass.

3. Everybody gets homesick and questions their choices.

Sometime during your freshman year — maybe a few times — you will wonder why you decided to go to college.

You will question your choice of school, your major, your living arrangements, and maybe even your own sanity. Whether this happens during your first days or weeks at school, halfway through the semester, or during finals week (or all of the above), it will happen. It happens to everybody.

Just try to relax, breathe, and remind yourself that this is totally normal. Keep your mind on your goals and focus on being grateful for the opportunity to grow.

4. Taking care of yourself has to be a priority.

The first few months of college are going to be a whirlwind. You’ll have new classes and a new schedule to get used to and of course you’ll want to attend events for new students. For many students, this means taking care of themselves goes on the back burner.

While it can be difficult to remember, you need to, at the very least, stay hydrated, stay active, and try to eat a decent diet. Take naps when you can if you aren’t getting a good night’s sleep. Do yoga, meditate, or try to work some mindfulness into your routine.

If you don’t take care of yourself, your immune system will suffer and you will be more likely to catch a cold or the flu. This can keep you out of class for days, creating a hole that will be difficult to dig yourself out of.

5. It’s cool to be careful.

You probably already know the statistics about violence, assault and rape on college campuses — and you probably believe it could never happen to you.

The truth is that one in five women and one in 16 men will be sexually assaulted while in college, according to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey: 2010 summary report. So, yes, unfortunately, it could easily happen to you. And, based on a report from the Association of American Universities, the rate of sexual assault from incapacitation (e.g., drugged, drunk, asleep, passed out) is almost equal to the rate of sexual assault from physical force.

So if you go to that party, pour your own drinks and don’t let them out of your sight. Use the buddy system. Let someone know where you’ll be and check in with him/her at a pre-arranged time.

6. Alcohol will be everywhere and it can derail your life.

Speaking of alcohol, it’s going to be everywhere, all the time, when you get to college. According to a survey sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), there has been a steady rate of use over the past decade, with about two-thirds of all college students admitting to regular consumption. Almost 40 percent admit to getting drunk regularly.

The worst part of all this is not the drinking but what one in five college students do after they’ve been drinking – which is driving drunk, reports researchers in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

Yes, drunk driving is extremely dangerous. You could cause an accident, injure yourself or even kill someone else. But the bigger likelihood is that you could get an underage DUI.

Drunk driving laws are growing stricter every day for people legally old enough to drink. But most states have zero-tolerance laws in place for drivers under 21. Even for a first offense, you could spend time in jail. If you don’t have to go to jail, you will likely still lose your driver’s license and have to pay huge fines and court fees.

An underage DUI will stay on your permanent record too, making it extremely difficult for you to get car insurance or pass a background check for a job or apartment.

So, whatever you do, never get behind the wheel if you’ve been drinking. And, if you do have a lapse in judgment and get an underage DUI ticket, get yourself a local DUI lawyer to help you fight the charge.

Good luck as you head off to college and, just remember, someday you’ll look back and laugh at the fears and struggles of your freshman year.

Rachel is a freelance content writer. She has written for a variety of industries including health, fitness, travel, and beauty. Aside from writing, Rachel enjoys hiking, traveling, and playing at the beach with her two dogs. You can contact her at Linkedin.

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