How to Fight Your Fear of College
By Joe Emerson | Last Updated: Dec 18, 2020
This is being written as Halloween approaches and October slips away, bringing you one month closer to the end of your senior year of high school. You’re getting serious about the college application process, and that conjures thoughts of leaving home, living with strangers, and tackling college-level courses. Worse yet, you’re terrified that you won’t fit in, and you’re still shrugging your shoulders when aunts and uncles ask about majors. Let’s jump ahead one year to get a new perspective on how to fight your fear of college.
You Had Planned to Get Organized Before Facing Your Fears
Flash forward. Halloween 2020 is nigh. It turns out that all your attention to college application details got you in the door. You smile slightly when you think about all that time spent worrying about admissions process details and rejection while trying to deal with application anxiety.
The campus has gone seasonal with pumpkins, black-cat cutouts, and candy. You, however, have been too busy adapting to college life to think about tricks and treats. You haven’t even had time to dwell on the college fears that have haunted you for over a year. You’re too busy getting your stomach in sync with the dining hall and staying focused on textbooks. When you’re not thinking about classes and all the things you’re learning about the campus and community, you’re occupied with all the little things you have to do to prepare for each day, from laundry to housekeeping to shopping.
You tell yourself you’ll tackle those nagging college fears once you get organized, once life stops moving so fast.
You’re already about a month into college, and it turns out your roommate isn’t a good fit. That made things awkward but not unbearable. Living with a stranger was one of your greatest fears as freshman year approached, but you’re handling it. You’ve agreed on some ground rules, are giving each other space, and are learning the ins and outs of having a roommate.
That roommate agreement recommended by the resident life coordinator has been a big help. Besides, there’s always the option of a roommate swap come sophomore year – or sooner – if need be.
Truth is, you’ve been too busy exploring campus resources to think about a swap. Here’s the No. 1 thing you’ve learned outside the classroom. You’re not on your own when it comes to:
Study centers are one of the fantastic resources that make college-level courses manageable. You were on the verge of panic when you assessed your academic challenges, but the tutors, programs, and tools have made a huge difference. You’re confident you can handle the schoolwork.
You’re in a zone now, but you didn’t feel that way before you started grilling your academic advisor. It appears that getting serious about studying pays more dividends when combined with good planning and advice.
You were sweating the costs and wondering how you’d manage, then you found the school’s scholarships and financial aid services center. It’s a clearinghouse for information on scholarships, grants, loans, and work-study programs.
A walk-in session with an advisor brought you clarity and calm. That advisor also directed you to Career Services. You were looking for a job, some extra money, but you fine-tuned your goals when you read this:
“Career Services supports you in your process of dreaming, planning, and achieving career goals. We teach you how to use a strategic approach in planning for a career path and job search. Our office helps you self-assess, learn how to conduct career research, seek out experiences that will give you transferable skills, and search for full-time employment or prepare for graduate school.”
Imagine that, a resource that addresses one of your greatest fears, not being able to succeed after college.
Despite the overwhelming number of new names and faces, or perhaps because of it, you weren’t connecting with anyone or finding a social niche. The Greek life was a consideration, but you decided against it.
You were lured into the USF Health and Wellness Center by the space-age nap pods. They worked just fine, and then you learned that your social well-being is a thing at Health and Wellness. The center is a portal to events, organizations, opportunities to volunteer, intramural sports – so many social connections that you no longer have time for nap pods.
Stress and Homesickness
You planned ahead and have connections through your family’s primary care physician to private medical care in your new home. You don’t really need it, though, because the campus has a great health clinic.
Health and Wellness also offers guidance and care when it comes to mental well-being, including ways to deal with stress.
The stress and anxiety started building before school started, and a lot of it came from wondering whether you could handle being separated from your friends and family for so long. Getting things done has helped your mental equilibrium and dialed back those fears.
You’ve got a grip on the grades because you’ve worked hard and had help concentrating on your studies. The money worries have subsided, too.
Yes, you miss your friends and family, but you’re too busy to dwell on it. Besides, the people who surround you know exactly what you’re facing. It also helps that you’re checking all the boxes on taking care of your mental health.
Something you didn’t expect has happened, too. The campus is starting to feel more and more like home, and you’re definitely thinking about getting your Halloween face on.
USF Is Here for You
Here’s a happy Halloween fact: The trick about going to college is that it can be a real treat if done right. If you go prepared and quickly get plugged in, most of your fears will fade while you’re busy living college life.
It turns out that helping you deal with the fears of going to college is the business of colleges.
If you want to know more about the ways the USF Office of Admissions tries to ensure the overall well-being of freshmen, we’re ready to engage. Contact us online, or reach us by phone at 813-974-3350.
About Joe Emerson
Joe Emerson spent 30 years as a magazine and newspaper reporter, editor and copyeditor who turned to freelancing after 20 years with The Tampa Tribune, which closed in 2016 after 125 years of serving the Tampa Bay area. Writing and delivering valuable information remain his passion.