Packing on the pounds - also known as the "Freshman 15" - used to be a parent's biggest worry when sending their precious cargo off to college. But now we know that the transition to college presents many more concerns for all students.
Students are worried about whether they can succeed academically. They wonder if they were accepted by mistake and they're going to be "found out." They're very anxious about whether they'll like their roommate(s) and if they'll be able to build lasting friendships. Few students are confident with their time-management skills and they fear the consequences of not striking the appropriate balance. And many students, understandably, are nervous about their finances. Will they be able to afford to stay in school? Can they go out to dinner with their new friends?
Some freshmen report that their parents have so romanticized their own college years that it makes them afraid that their experiences won't live up to what their parents have described.
Who knew there were so many other things to worry about?
Some comforting words for freshmen:
. You're not alone. You can assume that whatever feelings of insecurity you're feeling are shared by just about every other person you know.
. You can cut it. You may need to work harder than you did in high school, but you knew that was part of the package. Also, there are abundant resources available for struggling students. Take advantage of tutors, workshops, professors' office hours, teaching assistant tutorials, etc. Don't give up before you get started.
. It wasn't an accident. You earned your spot in the freshman class. Tell yourself you deserve to be there.
. Your roommate(s) don't have to be your best friends. Get beyond first impressions. Spend time with your roommate(s) and give the relationship a fair shake. If you are convinced this is an untenable relationship, utilize the resources provided by the college or university. Allow the resident assistant (RA) to get involved and follow appropriate protocol for requesting a roommate change. Don't complain to your parents and don't allow your parents to get involved with the RA or the school. View this challenge as an opportunity for growth. Could you be more flexible, more mature or more open-minded? Isn't that part of the college experience?
. Get organized. Allot time for studying every day and don't procrastinate.
. Funds will be tight. Your parents probably survived on ramen noodles, as well. Be resourceful. College towns are overflowing with discounts for students. Join LivingSocial or Groupon in your area and purchase wisely.
Lee Bierer is an independent college adviser based in Charlotte, N.C. For more information, visit www.collegeadmissionsstrategies.com.