My First Semester in College

Written By: Rawan Alshable, Sophomore at University of Toledo, FLI Program participant

(This content has been edited for clarity and grammar)

I’m not sure what I was expecting from college. I recall sitting back and pushing the refresh button on my Gmail account while my eyes attentively sifted through the stack of unmanaged, apparently unrelated digital mail that had gathered in my inbox, waiting for decisions to be made. It didn’t make a difference. For the previous week, just one thing had been on my mind: my college admission letter.
Was I up to the task? Did I prove to them that I was deserving of a place at their university? Will they take me in? I had been pondering the answers to these questions for some months. My perception of college had been shaped by a number of sources — family stories, movies, friends, elder siblings, and so on – some of which were likely more accurate than others. I’m the youngest of my siblings, yet I was the first in my family to go on the vast unknown that is college life. I felt that I was able to establish myself as a somewhat self-sufficient individual in most aspects of life during my high school years. Nonetheless, despite my growing confidence in my talents, the prospect of starting college in seven months felt like I was being thrust into something I couldn’t prepare for.

College provides you with both a benefit and a curse in terms of independence. Curfews, home rules/expectations, and any other disciplinary measures you’ve been used to throughout your childhood and adolescence are abruptly abolished. Do you want to go to bed at 3 a.m. after completing a container of ice cream? There’s no one around to stop you. After courses, do you want to watch TV for six hours? The biggest stumbling block will come when Netflix asks, “Are you still watching?” after you’ve finished eight episodes of your favorite show. For some, this increased freedom helps them to be more productive and successful since they are no longer bound by authority. For some, like myself, this independence looks to be a godsend until you remember how great it was to have someone keep an eye on you and make sure you’re safe.

Explore your interests, but don’t be afraid to try some things that scare you. I’m not suggesting that you go skydiving or break the law, but rather that you find an activity that interests you and forces you to step outside of your comfort zone. College is a massive institution. There are more people, places, and things to do than ever before; it would be a pity to miss out on all of these changes because you’re too afraid to try something new. Join an acapella group or join Greek life if you want to put yourself out there. In moderation, comfort is a beautiful thing, but dwelling in it creates complacency.

Get in college with the mindset of not knowing what to anticipate, since no one will have your experience, no matter how many blog posts you read, vlogs you binge, or comments you hear. So take it in and relish it, because before you know it, it’ll be a distant memory.


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