A former student sent an e-mail recently, asking me for advice about how to approach college. Here is what I considered important while thinking about it.
I can tell you what I know about college. I know that you are not the only one who feels apprehensive about it. Many (if not most) people who attend college have some anxiety about starting something new like college, and more so because college is often more difficult academically than high school; but from my experience, college can be such a wonderful experience if you approach it in the right way.
For instance, going to college will mean more homework than you are accustomed to having, and it will mean being in a place where you may not know anyone. It will also mean learning how to be an adult. You will have to manage your money, balance your time as you choose which classes to take when (as well as balance your classwork with a job if you choose to get a job), and take care of chores and housing needs in those times you are not studying.
However, college also allows you to meet so many new people, hear new perspectives, and make new friends. It means proving that you can take care of yourself, and taking pride in it. It means getting the chance to learn about yourself more as you explore hobbies that your university or college offers, or deciding whether you want to explore hobbies at all.
With all that in mind, here is what I can tell you: relax and be at peace. From someone who found it difficult to be in a new setting with new people, I can tell you that I found more good things in college than bad things. My anxiety about college was overshadowed by all of the new experiences I eventually found myself in, and I would not trade it back if I could.
Equally important, I believe you should ask yourself what you want to get out of college. If you want to make new friends, then you should make time between classes and studying to find ways to make friends with other students. This might mean joining a club or some other social gathering on campus. I made the mistake of focusing only on my studies, and while that was good in a way because I was prepared for my classes, I also missed so much of the social experience of college. I would suggest making time for a social life, without neglecting your studies.
Last, you should make every effort to be your best in your classes. I learned so much in college, but it was only because I took the time to read the coursework and attend all the lectures. As a result, I improved academically and personally. There will be times when others will challenge your beliefs when there are class discussions, but these will also be chances for you to speak up and say what you think, too. Don't be afraid to speak and stand up for what you know is right when the chance comes. Others will respect you for taking the risk.