Submitted by countylibrary on

Meet our Marketing Intern, Grace! She recently finished up her freshman year at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvainia, where she is majoring in Media/Communications and Creative Writing. We asked her to share with us some of the tactics she used to help her combat college anxiety.

Around this time last year, I was in full-fledged panic mode. Move-in day at Muhlenberg College was fast-approaching and so many boxes on my mental to-do list remained unchecked. This was going to be my first time living away from home, and I had no idea how I was going to adapt to being away from my parents and hometown for such an extended period of time. Furthermore,

  • What was I going to do with myself once I got to campus?
  • How difficult was it going to be to get involved?
  • How difficult would it be compared to high school?

For the first time in my life, I had absolutely no grip on what I was doing.

Spoiler alert: all of the boxes on my mental to-do list eventually got checked off. And if you’re an uneasy incoming freshman or the parent of one, you needn’t worry either. Here are some tips that helped me tackle freshman year of college:

1. Have Your Packing List Ready Ahead of Time.

The thought of packing my life away into storage bins and cardboard boxes scared me immensely. However, as long as you make a detailed packing list and stick to it, you shouldn’t run into any issues. I went through my room and grouped the items I would need to bring with me. For example, my bed needed bed sheets and pillowcases, my closet would need clothes and hangers, etc. My living room eventually transformed into packing central- and by the time move-in day arrived, I knew I wasn’t forgetting anything.

2. Take Advantage of Orientation!

Orientation weekend is often your first opportunity to familiarize yourself with your new home. While attendance is considered optional at some schools, I strongly recommend going. My college’s orientation was incredibly informational and beneficial, giving me the opportunity to network and socialize. I arrived on campus a few months later fully aware of where classes were and how to get there. If travel and schedules permit, definitely make attending orientation a priority!

3. Take Care of Yourself - Health Comes First!

When you’re in college, you have to look out for yourself. College is much less structured than high school; it allows for long blocks of free time that can be filled with extracurricular activities, independent study, or spending time with friends. While I found it very important to keep up with my studying and homework, (never procrastinate), being a first-time college student also taught me the importance of taking care of myself. No one was there to remind me to go to bed, exercise and eat healthily. Ultimately, that was up to me- and if I got sick, that was on me too. No matter your workload or your extracurricular commitments, sometimes you have to take a day for yourself. There’s no shame in emailing your professor and asking for an extension, or for passing on a night out with friends. There’s only one you, so take care of you!

4. Be Self-Sufficient When It Comes to Homework and Research.

Of course every university is different, but one thing is for sure: college academia is significantly more complex than high school. During my senior year, teachers provided detailed steps and expectations as to how they wanted certain assignments completed; I knew exactly what my teachers expected of me because the instructions and guidelines were clearly laid out. I’m not saying college is an academic free-for-all, but professors certainly won’t hold your hand throughout the process. Thus, it’s necessary to listen and retain the information presented to you in class- and to do your research outside of the lectures. Professors, of course, are there to answer your questions, but they won’t hunt you down if your work is not satisfactory. I found myself setting up shop in the library almost every day after my classes. It was comforting knowing that in addition to thousands of books, there were tons of online resources to assist me. You simply have to seek them out!

5. Ultimately, College Is What You Make Of It.

Much like someone can run themselves ragged from a full workload, students can do the same in college. With the ability to customize your schedule, it’s easy to jump from “getting involved” to “overbooked.” Some students want to take tons of classes and join as many activities as possible- often at the expense of their own happiness and sanity. It’s not necessary to jump at every single opportunity that presents itself; in fact, if you treat college more as a balancing act and less of a free-for-all, you will be setting yourself up for success later in life. Use these four years as a stepping stone and take the opportunity to not only learn from your classes, but to learn about yourself.