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The Stressful Steps to College

Like so many other seniors, these last couple of months have been stressful to say the least. I thought choosing where I wanted to go to college would be the hardest decision, but man was I wrong. Because then comes finding what you are going to study, where you’re going to live, who you’re going to live with, what type of food plan do you want, how much money are you going to receive, and the list goes on and on.
Those who told me senior year is going to be the easiest year of high school didn’t warn me about the stress of college. How is a high school senior supposed to know who they want to live with for their first year out in the world on their own? How am I supposed to know how much food I am going to consume in a year? How do I know I even picked the right college? I have so many questions that no one really seems to have an answer to.
To someone who has been in my shoes, please tell me I will stop losing my hair/ mind sometime soon.

Dear losing my mind,

Let me just start by saying that I remember those days well and I know how stressful it feels to be in your position of wondering about where you will be, how you will afford it, and generally how the next four years of your life will play out. It’s a big decision to make at eighteen years old, but somehow, all of us do it. I am a strong believer in the fact that everything happens the way it needs to, but sometimes those things take time. You just have to trust in the fact that you will end up where you need to be eventually, so just try to enjoy the ride for now.

First of all, I want to tell you to not worry about food. You’ll (most likely) live in a dorm, where food is plenty – almost too plenty. Most colleges have meal plans set up that have been in place for years. The way it works at my school (I go to Texas Tech, Wreck Em’ Y’all), you choose a level of food plan based on how much you think you’ll eat (the bigger the plan, the more expensive). I have the smaller plan because I don’t eat all three meals on campus per day. Sometimes, I eat off campus, sometimes I eat ramen or lucky charms in my room, just depend on the day. I promise that I am eating enough and I am not worried at all about starving.

Next, the roommate issue: it’s not really a big deal. I would suggest living with a random roommate. It’s a great way to make a new friend and learn new things. You hear nightmare stories of psycho roommates, but in reality, I haven’t heard of anyone having that bad of an experience on campus. It’s a learning curve for sure; there are going to be things they do that annoy you to no end (like leave toothpaste in the sink) and there will be things you do that annoy them (like set five alarms in the morning, sorry roomie), but it’s a great experience in learning how to live with other people. Also, I almost never spend time in my room because I am either in class, studying, doing extra curricular activities, or hanging out with friends, so if you don’t have the best living situation it’s still bearable. Probably the biggest suggestion I have is get involved in at least one activity on campus. If nothing else, it’s a great way to get a free meal at least once a month, but you also meet tons of new people and better your college experience.

The money issue is definitely the biggest and most stressful thing that I faced my senior year. I worked really hard in high school, but at times it seemed that I didn’t work hard enough to pay for anything more than in state tuition. UNM and NMSU are great schools and the lottery scholarship is a wonderful deal, but I wanted to get out of the state for a new experience. The money came through eventually, but I definitely worked for it. I wish I could tell you that the scholarship applications stop, but they don’t. However, once you get to school it seems to be easier to get more scholarships because they give out the surplus after the school year starts. Get to know your professors and the people in your department. They are there to help you not only with school but also with everything else you face in your time at college. Just remember that you get what you give, so work hard.

I want you to know that the stress is so worth it. I could not imagine having a better time than I am now. College is the best time of my life so far and I am so grateful to be able to attend where I wanted to go. But, if you don’t feel the same way, you can always transfer. Life changes on the daily, and you can change with it. Just because you go somewhere your freshman year doesn’t mean you need to stick it out if you absolutely hate it. That being said, give it some time and try to see the good in your school instead of what you don’t like. You will have much more fun if you spend your time thinking about how you love what you’re doing rather than thinking about what you would rather be doing somewhere else. You will make it through this tough decision, I promise!

Lastly, know that there are always people you can talk to because almost everyone else has been in your position some way or another. A good resource for questions regarding your specific university is by simply calling the student help center and asking to speak to a student representative. It’s their job to answer questions like yours and they want to help as much as possible. People want to see you do your best and they are always there to help you. Good luck and remember to breathe! You’re almost there!

Sincerely,

Someone who has been there.

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