Surviving freshman year: It's OK not to love college

By Katrina Fadrilan

We all idealize what our first year of college will be like. We hope to feel an immediate sense of belonging and find that the college we chose is perfect for us. However, not everyone will experience such compatibility and may consider dropping out, or transferring. Fear and doubt is perfectly natural. Most people find that if they stick it out, they adapt and things quickly turn out a whole lot better. Here are just a few important things you'll learn in college — which you won't find in any textbook.

How to live with others

Not everyone becomes best friends with their roommate. Even if you have a great roommate, it’s tough to adapt to living with another person. I was lucky enough to have a roommate who ended up being my BFF, but despite how wonderful she is, I learned that living with another person requires effort.

Not only do you have to adapt to your roommate’s living standards, you also have to adjust to the people living around you. For instance, the boys living across from me constantly sang until 3 a.m. Their voices were lovely and could soothe crying babies, but when you have an 8 a.m. class the next day, you don’t look at it that way.

Living in a communal space forces you to consider others’ habits and make sacrifices; whether it’s being neater, respecting quiet hours, or accommodating sleeping schedules. In the long run, living with others will contribute to your maturity by making you more thoughtful, attentive, and accepting of how other people live.

How to build lifelong friendships

You're going to meet a lot of people during your first semester of freshman year, and they may not all turn out to be your best friends. Social interactions, especially during the first few weeks of college, can feel forced and even a little fake. This can get tiring, but pushing yourself to meet as many people as you can allows you to weed out passing acquaintances and find truly compatible friends.

Even as an extreme extrovert, I became weary of incessant small talk and acting a certain way to appeal to people. The good news is those feelings don't last forever. I found that what began as superficial interactions could lead to passionate conversations. Allowing time to break the ice and remain open-minded paid off in some very meaningful friendships.

How to adjust to new expectations

Although there are fewer classes than in high school, the academic standards in college are exponentially more rigorous. Teachers no longer offer easy assignments to boost your grade, and you're expected to spend more time outside of class reading and studying. With 50 pages of reading per night, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Doubting yourself is normal, and for many it happens at the start of every year. Despite the challenges, you will slowly strengthen your work ethic, making every term a little easier.

If you find adjusting to your new college life to be a bit challenging, don't worry. It's perfectly normal. Everyone goes through it. College may not be for everyone, and that's OK, but if you choose to stick it out, you'll learn about much more than classwork — and you'll make friendships and discover new ideas that will last the rest of your life. College is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Make the most of it!

Now that you've made it, help others learn from your experience. Review a college or share your comments below.

Images courtesy of Giphy.

About the author

Katrina (who also goes by Kat, though she's more of a dog person) is currently in her second year at NYU. She's pursuing a double major in public relations and English, with a minor in Spanish. A native San Franciscan, she loves exploring cities, binge-watching all films, and, of course, writing.