By Heather Rinder
Before you head off to college, you may be nervous, excited, or a mess and mix of emotions you’ve never felt before. You’re heading off to (what seems like) a completely different world from the one you experienced in high school. And most of the time, it is a little bit different. Or a lot. Whatever your college experience, you’re bound to learn more about yourself, your friends, and life in general than you ever thought possible.
Here 10 tips from Her Campus members to give you a heads up on what they wish they knew before starting college.
1. It may take time to make close friends.
“You don't immediately make strong bonds with people, and your ‘friends for life’ just don't appear. It takes time and effort to actually get to know people. There's a huge difference between someone you know and a real friend.” - Chantal Johnson, Campus Correspondent, James Madison University, Class of 2014
It’s especially important to remember this advice in the first few weeks, when you’re meeting lots of people. There’s no need to be best friends with the first five people you meet, but keep an open mind—some of them could potentially be friends for your next few years at school.
2. Friends from high school may not last forever.
“Friendships inevitably change and as high schoolers, we like to say that we'll all be 'friends forever,' but sometimes, life just pulls us into different directions. [Knowing this] would have helped me prepare myself for the change of dynamics in those friendships and saved me a lot of hurt feelings.” - Alexandra Churchill, Contributing Writer, University of New Hampshire, Class of 2012
Alexandra tells future collegiettes not to stress over the transition of high school friendships. “They don't always last, people grow and change. Friends aren't always forever, but that's okay,” she says. If it seems like you and a high school friend are growing apart, that’s perfectly normal. Sometimes it even takes losing a friend to gain a new one!
3. Expand your group of friends to outside your hallway or floor.
“It’s okay to make friends outside of your dorm. Join clubs, attend events, try out for a sport. Don't confine yourself to making friends with the people in your hallway, but don't push them away either. I made the mistake of spending so much time out of my dorm that all of my hall-mates formed bonds that I wasn't a part of.” - Chantal Johnson, Campus Correspondent, James Madison University, Class of 2014
When you first arrive on campus, keep the door to your room open (only during the day when you’re inside it!). That way people walking by or moving in can stop and say hi. It’s a great way to meet people within your first week or two. After that, work on expanding your group by participating in out-of-dorm activities, as Chantal suggests.
4. Know the challenges of a long-distance relationship.
“I wish I'd known before college how much pressure [college] can put on long-distance relationships. I was aware and I'd heard stories, but to experience it was a completely different feeling.” - Jessica Salerno, Campus Correspondent, Ohio University, Class of 2013
Jessica recommends talking about what you expect out of the relationship, and how you expect each other to act toward other guys or girls while in school. “It’s so easy to get jealous over small things when you're missing each other and don't know when you'll be together again,” she says. Miscommunication over these kinds of issues has the potential to turn into a fight, or multiple fights, over the phone. Jessica also suggests being accepting of changes and growth both in yourself and in your boyfriend. “You might not want in four months what you want now, so go in with an open mind and a strong heart,” she adds.
5. Know your status with the guy you’re hanging out with - be careful about jumping to conclusions.
“I wish I would have known that yes, there are plenty of fish in the sea as the saying goes, but not to fall for every single guy who looks my way. Even if a guy treats you like a princess the moment you meet him, you should not expect anything more than a hookup if he brings you home that night.” - Erica Avesian, Contributing Writer, University of Michigan, Class of 2013
Freshman year you’ll be exposed to a whole new crop of adorable guys. As Erica warns, however, not every one that smiles at you will be your new boyfriend. There’s no harm in meeting new people, or new guys, but be careful about falling for someone too quickly in the rush of all the college excitement.