s your senior year of high school begins, you cannot help but daydream about college. For many, it is the first time they can leave home and start venturing into the world. Most young adults tend to go through this rite of passage. But, their experience tends to vary.

If you are a senior this year looking at colleges or thinking about going to college in the next year or two, this is the right place for you. As you read through today's piece, you will have a chance to learn some of the ins and outs of college life and what you can realistically expect.

Applications have closed

Now that you’ve applied, all you can do is wait, which is never easy!

  All you can do is hear back from schools. Keep yourself busy and remember that a school's decision is not what defines you. Image courtesy of vogelprep

You just finished sending in your final college application, the challenging part is over, and now all you have to do is sit and wait. That’s easy enough, right? But, although it may not seem like it, the challenge has just begun. Waiting to hear back from schools is perhaps the most nerve-racking part. It can be a make-it-or-break for some individuals. Some will have their dreams crushed, while others will be beyond excited to get into their dream schools.

Acceptances and Rejections

Be prepared for rejections. It’s all a part of the college process.

As much as anyone hates to acknowledge it, it is very unlikely that you will get accepted into every school you apply to. And although it may hurt at the time, you will eventually look back and realize it was OK. I will never forget how I was told during my college application process that if a school doesn’t accept you, it’s because they don’t see you as a good fit for the type of person they are taking at that time. So, keep this in mind: Do I want to go to a school that doesn’t want me? In some ways, determining where you will spend the next four years of your life is almost a form of speed dating.

Preparing to leave Home

Feeling happy, excited, nervous, and sad about leaving home for the first time is perfectly normal.

Leaving home is the most exciting and scariest part of many individuals' lives. If this is how you are feeling, you are not alone. Image courtesy of Startschoolnow.

At this step in the college process, you may begin to have a variety of feelings regarding packing up and leaving home. For some people going away to college is the first time they have been away from home in their entire lives, and they may feel overwhelmed with an assortment of emotions. While others they may be itching to leave to get the chance to go out into the world and begin experiencing new things for themselves— and learn life lessons that they will take with them for the rest of their lives.

What should I Pack?

Remember, lists are incredibly helpful to ensure you pack exactly what you need for college.

This is probably one of the biggest questions many of you leaving for college may have. We have all seen in movies and on television how going away to college is portrayed as having glamorous dorm rooms and nonstop partying. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but unfortunately, this isn’t the case.

What you see in the media is for entertainment, yet some aspects are close to the college experience. One of the best things you can do when packing for college is to look on your school’s site and see if there are images of what the potential dorm you will be living in looks like. You can also learn what the dimensions are for the room. Doing this gives you more of an idea of how much space you will have and how much you should bring with you.

This tends to be an area that many people struggle with. They either pack too much stuff to take to college with them or get to school and realize that they didn’t pack enough or the right items. So another thing that helps when it comes to what is and isn’t necessary regarding what to bring to school is to make lists.


  • Clothes
  • Hygiene Products
  • Bedding
  • Mini fridge/Microwave (if not provided in your dorm)
  • Bedding
  • School supplies (i.e., notebooks, pens, pencils, paper, highlighters, etc.)
  • A lamp
  • Dorm vacuum cleaner
  • Brita for fresh filtered water
  • Bathroom necessities
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Soap and dryer sheets for laundry
  • And most importantly, an open mind, ready to experience new things

Optional things to pack include

  • Command stripes
  • Wall decorations
  • Carpets
  • Decorations, pillows
  • Hobbies unrelated to school include coloring books, books, game systems, etc.
  • Television

The list of items is endless!

Stepping out of Your Comfort Zone

It’s scary but completely worth it!

This is one tip you often hear when entering college, but what does it mean? Put simply, it means that you need to be willing and open to putting yourself out there, whether it be joining a club on campus, joining Greek life, or even just showing up to on-campus events. As a result, you end up meeting people you become friends with when you least expect it. 

Now, this can be scary for many people, but sometimes all it takes is trying out one new thing to learn that you love it. Ask your parents, aunts, uncles, and even older family friends, and I am sure they will have plenty of examples they could give about the times they were forced to step out of their comfort zones. Chances are, they don't regret it at all.


Learning to deal with other people respectfully is an important life skill.

Although you and your roommate might not always see eye to eye, you may realize you have at least one common interest by talking. Image courtesy of thoughtco.

This is tricky because everyone’s first experience with roommates is different. Some may become best friends, while others only have a bare minimum conversation. If you fall into the latter category, it is OK. Sometimes you get lucky, and other times you end up with the short end of the stick. 

One of the best things you can do is try to make the best of it. Of course, this is easier said than done at times, but if you think about it, would you rather live in a small space filled with tension for the next year of your life or try to find some middle ground? You would think that most people would work to find a middle ground, and in many cases, they do. 

On the other hand, if worst comes to worst, you and your roommate can agree to do one of two things. The first thing you can do is to just not talk to one another, continue to be peaceful during passing, but don’t feel like you need to make snarky comments or rude gestures. The second and more extensive solution you can try is to see if any other places are available to live on campus and move there. This should be the last resort because it is such a hassle to pack up everything and move, especially when you know you will eventually be moving out of your housing situation at some point.

General Education Courses

These classes are necessary and may help you find your true calling.

You may be thinking, ‘great,’ I have to take biology 210 or Calculus 103; I thought I was done with these types of courses after high school.’ If this is you, you are not alone. Many of us believe that after graduating from high school, we are done and get to begin studying whatever we want. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. Before getting upset about taking general classes, let's look at why they are essential. 

As tired of these types of courses as you may be by the time you enter college, you will later learn that they serve a purpose. Not only are a number of these courses prerequisites to many majors, but on average, 80% of college students will change their major at least three times throughout their college career. 

Some individuals may even change it more than that. When you’re required to take these general education classes, you are not only allowed to get a taste of what the pace of college-level courses is like, but it also gives you some wiggle room to decide on what you are interested in and what field you may want to pursue during your time at your university.

College is Only about Academics

Academics are important but aren’t the only aspect of a well-rounded college experience.

Time to hit the books! Nothing in life comes easily.

How many of you grew up with it being drilled into your head that the only way to get a good job was to go to college and that all you should do in college is focus on academics? A fair number of you must have heard some variation growing up. Although this is true to an extent,  college is also about learning more about who you are as a person and growing up. In doing so, you are responsible for making more adult life decisions such as ‘ do I feel like going to class?’ OR ‘ Should I stay out all night even though I have a big test tomorrow?’ These are the kinds of things that you will need to consider when making plans or deciding to go out.


You will make friends, trust us!

This is something that a lot of people worry about when they go off to college. Remember that although you may not be best friends with your roommate or have the biggest group of friends at school, this is OK. All you genuinely need to make it through the year is to have one or two close friends you can count on and know have your back.

Take Time for Yourself

You’ve got to make time for yourself.

Remember, you aren’t a machine and need to take some time to recharge.

This is perhaps the essential thing that you need to remember when you start college. As fun as it may be to go out and be social and try to go to everything, you also need to make sure that you take time to unwind and decompress. Whether that means going on a walk, taking a nap, working out, or reading a book, it is vital to allow yourself to have “me time” and focus on yourself.

Now you are probably thinking, OK, OK, enough; I get it. By reading through this piece, you should have taken away what matters when going to college. So take a deep breath and relax. You got this!

Jul 18, 2022