It’s Totally Normal to be Nervous for College
(But Here Are 4 Tips to Help!)
Right now, we have 66 days until Getting Started Weekend 2022, when many of you will be setting foot on campus for your first time as an official Cedarville student.
There are a lot of things that could be going through your head when you hear that. You could be excited to get out on your own and be independent. You might worry about whether you’ll fit in and make new friends. Maybe you’re uncertain about how to act in classes, what residence hall living will be like, or if you’ll be able to figure out all the Cedarville lingo. (Insider tip for you: put Cedar in front of anything and you’ve got it down. Cedar Lake. Cedar Rock. Cedar Couple. Seriously.)
As a Type A, intensely detail-oriented person, I understand the nervousness. There are a lot of unknowns involved when you come to college for the first time. Three years ago, when I left rural Massachusetts for (admittedly equally rural) Ohio, I was a total mess. I loved my senior year of high school. I’d made friends I really liked spending time with, got serious about my interests, and deepened my relationships with my parents and church family. When I left for Cedarville, it felt like I was giving a lot of that up.
On top of that, I had switched majors over the summer from music composition to English. Since my advisor had suggested I wait until I get to Cedarville to make the change, I still got bombarded by invitations for music department events and meetups.
There was no such certainty on the English front. Since I was still in the middle of switching majors, I didn’t know where to go for any of the beginning-of-year meetings. I got assigned my department advisor the same week we started classes.
That’s probably not the situation most of you are about to experience. But whatever your comfort level when you start your freshman year, there are bound to be worries and uncertainties that crop up as you adjust.
Here are four pieces of advice I wish someone had given me my first year. I hope they help you out over your next 66 days and beyond.
- Rely on the Lord
It bears mentioning first because it’s the most important. You’re going to be making a lot of changes during freshman year. New home, new friends, new lifestyle. The amount of change can be kind of dizzying.
Your faith isn’t something that has to change. I serve the same God in Cedarville, Ohio, that I do in Hubbardston, Massachusetts. When you get anxious, turn to Him. Confess your worries to Him. Ask Him for the new friends or awesome roommate or interesting classes you’re hoping for. Find comfort in spending time in your Bible.
We serve a God who loves to hear what’s on our hearts and who loves us more than we can say. Remind yourselves (and your friends) of that during this new phase.
- Everyone Else Is Nervous, Too
This takes away a lot of pressure.
You know how you’re worried about making new friends and fitting in? If (as a quick Google search tells me) there are more than 1,200 new students coming to campus this year, guess what? All 1,199 of the others are nervous, too!
That’s 1,199 other people looking for new friends. 1,199 other people hoping they’ll fit in. You are not alone.
One of the best (and most convicting) pieces of advice I’ve heard is that insecurity can be rooted in self-focus. Sometimes the best way to get out of your own head and avoid stressing is to focus on loving others.
So, treat others the way you’d like them to treat you on campus. Invite them to your table at meals if they’re sitting alone. And be proactive! Stop in to introduce yourself to your next-door neighbors or ask if you can sit next to someone in chapel. You can even get started early by meeting students through RoomSync or the Cedarville Facebook page over the summer.
Some of those things might feel awkward at first, but the people you introduce yourself to or befriend are looking to fit in and find their people just as much as you are. They’ll undoubtedly really appreciate it.
- Ask for Help (a Lot!)
My freshman year, I got locked out of my dorm in the middle of the involvement fair, one of the first big campus-wide events of the year. Almost everyone was out of the dorm at the time, and I’d just got out of the shower, with my phone, student ID, and even my shoes locked in my dorm room!
In situations like that, it’s worth knowing who to ask for help. Maybe that means introducing yourself to your RA or RD. Maybe that means meeting people in the rooms close to you or knowing which classmates to ask for notes if you miss a class. Your professors are always happy to get emails from students or meet during their office hours if you need additional help with your courses. College is a big learning curve, and no one is ever going to fault you for asking for help or advice!
I’ve been locked out of my dorm multiple times since that first week but knowing who to ask for help makes it so much less stressful. (In case that happens to you, the people who can unlock your door are your RA, your RD, and Campus Safety.)
- Nervousness Isn’t Always Bad
Last but not least, it’s okay to be nervous! A lot of times, nervousness just means you’re doing something big enough to push you outside of your comfort zone. As uncomfortable as all the unknowns are, you’ll come out the other side of your freshman year having grown so much because of it.
Everyone has their own ways of dealing with stress, so be sure to have your favorite chocolate around, a playlist of familiar music ready to go, or people you love on speed dial. Whatever works for you! But even when you are stressed or unsure, just know it won’t last forever and that, before you know it, Cedarville will start feeling like home.
Student Life Blogger
- Majoring in English with a minor in Editing and Publishing
- Hometown: Hubbardston, MA
- Coffee Order: Affogato
- Favorite Bible Verse: 1 Timothy 1:5