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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Support Groups » Starting college or university...

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Author Topic: Starting college or university...
Ecofem
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Starting college or university this Fall and looking for some support? Maybe you've been waiting for years and now counting down the days or perhaps you're not even sure if you're ready or worry you're leaving something behind... you can talk about it here!

Calling all new and returning students to share your feelings and experiences-- your fears, your excitement, your joys, your challenges-- surrounding transitioning to higher education! It's a wonderful opportunity and something to to relish and we want to help you make the most of it! [Smile]

[Note: You also may find this related post on Pioneering Your Adult Life to be interesting and helpful.]

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Heather
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By the by, Shelby Knox did a really nice recent piece on dealing with some sexuality issues when starting college this week: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/shelby-knox/smart-girl-guide-to-colle_b_279390.html

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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SnailShells
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Yay, just what I was looking for [Smile]

I've recently started college and I really love it except for one thing: I'm not as social as I'd like to be. I like my "alone time" which leads to time I would otherwise be spending with others (say, mealtimes) being spent in my dorm, often finishing homework. I've joined a sports team and I really like it and my team members are all awesome people, but I feel like people are in the process of settling into cliques, and I get anxious about insinuating myself or tagging along. I haven't made any close-ish friends yet, and I'm worried that if I don't get a hold on it during the first month it's not going to change much. I get anxious about coming on too strong or being awkward, which is pretty silly but it happens. This has been driving me nuts and I felt weird voicing it to other friends or my parents, so any suggestions would be helpful [Smile]

PS I have joined a few clubs, and I am an active member of my sports team, so meeting people isn't too much of the problem; I feel like I've forgotten how to really make friends!

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I thank God I was raised Catholic, so sex will always be dirty. --John Waters

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Ecofem
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Hey SnailShells, it's good to hear from you. [Smile]

I think making new friends at college, especially during your first semester, can feel tricky or like new territory if you're used to having a close group of friends. It sounds like you're doing all the "right" things to meet people: joining a team and clubs is a great step! I think it's good to have alone time, too, but I might consider occasionally joining others for meals, for example; at my small college, meals were a big social time. But it's really up to you and it's good that you're working to stay on top of assignments, etc. [Smile]

As for making close friends, I think that is something that happens over time. I felt I had a lot of aquaintences my first year old university but it wasn't until my second that I really felt I had some close friends. Plus, you'll probably meet more people and see groups shift as you do more; for example, once you choose your major, you might have some particularly close friends you study with.

You are probably coming on just fine but you can always ask, "Hey, I see you're going to the library to study. I'd like to come along but if you'd rather have alone time/one-on-one time, I totally understand." What about inviting people to things you suggest so they have the option of coming or not? I know teams will do a lot together, like eat meals after practice and what not. In those situations, it's like you know it's an ok place to be because everyone is invited.

Asking people if they want to catch a meal over something like AIM or text or Facebook gives people the chance to say no and may make it feel easier. I do think there's something to be sad about at least occasionally taking people up on their offers because it shows you're interested; if you're not interested, that's fine, but people tend to stop asking after a while, at least when you're just getting to know each other, because they don't want you to feel pressured if they get the vibe you don't want to attend.

I think talking about this with friends and family could actually be a good step. It gives them a chance to share their experiences and it's actually a pretty common feeling, I think! Good luck and tell us how it goes... I think college is and can be a blast but the first semester can be hard while you're trying to figure various things out; everyone deals with certain challenges, be it academic or social or otherwise. It sounds like you're off to a very good start though! [Smile]

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May Day
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i'm 20 and in my third year of university. I didn't take a gap year, i just wanted in. i knew exactly what i wanted to study and that i wanted to dive head first into uni life.

So, i found first year to be excellent. It was a huge environment change, compared to high school.

In high school, i was a definitely the loner, and the group of boys and girls i hung out with really just did so because you *have* to have friends in high school, it's how that shitty conformist heirachy works. Since grad, i've only kept in touch with two of my guy friends and consider them to be dear, close friends, but i don't really see them often.

One of the reasons i know longer contact my other friends is because out of my group of 8, i was the only one to head into further education. And uni life really changes you and your perspective. I've found uni to be inviting and open, it was very easy to approach people (especially other first years who were in the same boat as you) because there were SO MANY people and lotsa oppurtunities to just say hi:)
You meet people like you. It was so welcoming and easy!

I don't really get involved in the guild, but i'm pretty active in the various departments hosted by the guild, such as the Womens' dep and the Gender and Sexuality dep.

Another thing i really noticed, is that there were no longer age barriers. In high school.. you didn't associate with other year levels.
Since starting with uni, the people i love to be with are spread across the board in terms of age, to just younger than me to in their forties! So my perspective of "old" and "young" has also really changed.

For new uni students.. just relax and enjoy. Make eye contact with the other hoards of students stuffed into public transport and start chatting! In class, sit near other people, don't isolate yourself.
Check out the stuff your campus offers, like sport, theatre, etc. I spend a LOT of time in the tav on campus with fellow performance students (we've held classes in there, the tutors encourage alcoholism:P it's part of the profession) but also with a lot of engineering students. I guess they get pretty thirsty too. We get on great even though our fields are at opposite ends of the spectrum.

Really... i'd say that university has been some of the best years of my life. I found high school constricting, while uni has been so fun and i feel so free. Try and find your niche, and study something you *want* to study, not something just to get you a job.

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Parapluie
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I'm 19 and I'm currently taking a year off of school for a few different reasons: a) Waiting for a certain program to open up, b) Pay off my student loan from last year, and c) Really give more thought to what I want to study/do.

When I started university, I wasn't as social either, I think cause I was surrounded by thousands of people rather than the few hundred from my high school. [Razz] I made friends during a writing class, when we were all asked to pair up or work in groups of three (convinient!). I also ended up making friends through the people I initially met! So, I didn't find making new friends terribly hard. I also found that simply introducing yourself to whoever sits besides you in classes is an easy way to make a couple friends. However, what I did find hard was not having my old group of best friends with me. None of them went to university, so some days I just sat in the library studying... not that it did any harm to my grades!

Like May Day, I found university to be SO freeing. I loved having everything be my own responsibility! I like that profs have very high expectations (most of them, anyway) of their students, and that there were so many opportunities for community involvement. I attended a university in the core of my city's downtown, so it was nice to be part of the larger community, rather than tucked away on a remote campus. Just my two cents: Since my university is surrounded by low-income families, people who are homeless and general poverty, it seems to make the atmosphere in the university less like an ivory tower. I don't really have anything to back that up other than my own feelings though. Basically, it just emphasizes community involvement, which is usually an important part of many degrees.

Something about university that I still struggle with though is figuring out just what I want to study/do. I don't have any for money for school (loans!), so I feel restricted by that. I feel as though I don't really have the finances to study what I *want* to study , but what will get me a job. Despite that though, next year, I'm entering a one-year certificate program at a great college because I *want* to, not necessarily as job training. It's something I've wanted for sooo long, I'm excited!

In that same vein, there's so many things I could see myself studying! It's hard to narrow it down! How do you choose? [Razz]

I simply adore learning, and feeling really connected to my world. I love looking back at how much I've learned and changed. My first year of university changed me a lot! I've heard this from many people, but I feel much more aware of social and political issues, and of myself. I encourage everyone who's entering (or thinking about entering) university to be excited! Absorb everything, cause if you're a nerd and a know-it-all like me, you'll feel great. [Smile]

And for anyone who's entering university from a low-income family, I feel I can relate to the frustrations and fears of starting a new chapter in your life with, most often, negative funds.

[ 09-14-2009, 08:49 PM: Message edited by: Parapluie ]

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"The truth of all predictions is always in your hands."

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May Day
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Parapluie: "I feel as though I don't really have the finances to study what I *want* to study , but what will get me a job. Despite that though, next year, I'm entering a one-year certificate program at a great college because I *want* to, not necessarily as job training. It's something I've wanted for sooo long, I'm excited!"

That's totally it, the big problem with tertiary education: the expense. In Australia, HECS provide funding for part or all of a students education, but it accumulates interest and it's not really all that great for young people to be entering the real world with a 20,000 dollar debt. My mum is paying for my study (on the condition that i fork out for any units i don't pass, but that hasn't happened yet) because she didn't me to have that debt. So i owe her a bit of money. Fortunately she doesn't require interest:P

Again, finance is the reason why some students struggle with their studies, because they feel obligated to study with a long term goal in sight. Long term is great, but not if you're not doing something you *love*. A good friend of my is doing education. after 2.5 years of it shs has come to conclusion that she *doesn't* want to teach. She's gonna finish the degree nevertheless and then start studying things she really wants to do, like astronomy.

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Parapluie
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Thanks May Day, I feel a little better about wanting to study something I actually love. And it's nice to hear from someone who understands the expense of it all. I still can't shake the feeling that I'll end up as a 20-something with a basically useless degree and a $20 000 debt though. But maybe that's just how I'm looking at university, obviously, if I worked really hard and studied something I love, the degree wouldn't feel like a waste.
Thankfully however, I have this year to sit and stew on what I wanna study. I feel that taking this year off has been a smart thing for me to do, so I don't end up wasting time and money on something I don't have a passion for.
I personally think university should be free, but that's just me talking. [Razz]

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"The truth of all predictions is always in your hands."

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May Day
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i think all people should have the oppurtunity to seek higher education if they so desire, so tuition costs are a huge barrier. The system is classist. it would be wonderful if tertiary education was free but proffessors get paid bugger all as it is:P

A gap year is an excellent idea i think if you're not 100% positive and enthused about what you're going to study for the next 3+ years. I've got friends who are several years my seniors and back in first year of their courses again because they've constantly chopped and changed. It's sad because some feel pressured and unhappy and aren't reaching their full potential while studying towards something they do enjoy. Two friends have even flunked out! [Frown]

Another suggestion for students unsure about where their studies are going to take them: short term goals are a good idea. I currently have an excellent casual job for a hardware business where i'm learning a huge amount and gaining skills. Gonna get a forklift licence soon and everything. While it's not a field i will devote my life too, it's challenging work i enjoy and take away from. Once i've finished my degrees i plan to work their full/part time for at least 6 months, building significant savings. Then i'm getting me a working visa and seeing the world. It will be a fabulous, well-earned holiday.

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Ecofem
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Hi May Day and Parapluie,

I just wanted to say that I've been following your posts and think you two have raised so many good points and shared a lot of really great advice! [Smile]

May Day, your forklift license plan sounds really cool and actually like a good springboard into a lot of other options; where would you like to travel afterwards?

Parapluie, I think it was a brave and smart decision to take a year off from uni to figure out what you *really* want to do rather than finish something you may or may not find useful for accomplishing future life goals. You're also absolutely right about first-in-the-family college attendees having to deal with a lot more challenges than students from families familiar with college; however, I think the challenges are countered a bit by the huge achievement (and inspiration!) of being the first to attend. (Not to say that graduating from university is a "bigger" or "more worthwhile" accomplishment than other stuff, of course, because it depends on the person. [Wink] )

I agree that the high cost of post-secondary education in most countries is a real challenge, especially in today's economy. I think it'd really sage to seek out different options (because there really are so many, even if many seem the path less traveled.)

I also think the debate: to study what you love (but may or may not help yield a desired job) or to study with a specific career goal in mind is tricky. I did the former, found myself intellectually challenged in awesome ways like never before (and maybe never quite the same again, at least in the same way) and really lucked out in many ways because I see how hard it can be for friends in this boat. I chose to get a liberal arts education at a small private college (an almost full merit scholarship and many work-study jobs made it a reality and even "cheaper" for me than a public uni) and kept applying for all types of scholarships: as you two can surely attest to, taking a few hours to apply for even a one-time $500 scholarship sure beats the hours spent working to earn that in work-study or (near) minimum wage jobs.

Doing career exploration from the start, such as participating in internships and job-shadowing, is also recommended. I think that you can technically study whatever you'd like if you know how to market your skills and where to look for work; that could mean studying music or art but also taking some business classes or what have you. Again, I really lucked out but that's what I would do if I were to go through it again. [Smile]

[ 09-21-2009, 11:08 PM: Message edited by: Ecofem ]

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May Day
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Hi Ecofem!

I really liked this post topic, lotsa young people get outta school and find the transition into uni/work/whatever! scary, difficult or really confusing. It's great to brainstorm on positive aspects.

There's so much i wanna do. Somehting i'm reallly interested in is languages. I'd love to be fluent in several. I'm doing okay with English and pretty good with French too. Next on the list is Arabic, then Greek. So I would like to spend a bit of time in the Middle East, but all of Asia i'd like to see.

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SnailShells
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Sorry to spoil the positive energy in this post, but I need some help :\

The novelty of college has started to wear off on me and it's getting to the stressful not so awesome part. I still feel kind of isolated and friendless--there's people I'm friendly with and acquaintances, but no one yet I would really call my friend. I also somehow managed to lose a textbook which is going to cost $100+ to replace. Even better, I got a terrible grade on a test I thought I did well on, and if my grade point drops below a certain point I lose my scholarship. I've been telling friends and family that everything is just peachy keen and I love college so much but I feel I'm starting to really slip. I've casually mentioned that I don't have anyone to sit with at meals and my mom advised me to find a group before everyone cliques up; I didn't tell her that I'm pretty sure that's been happening since day 1. I haven't told my parents yet about the missing textbook, and I don't want to follow it up with "Oh yeah, and I failed a test [Razz] " I need some advice [Frown]

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I thank God I was raised Catholic, so sex will always be dirty. --John Waters

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Heather
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When did you start school, SnailShells?

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Ecofem
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Hey SnailShells,

I'm sorry to hear things are tough right now; no worries about bringing things down here at all-- we're here to support you! [Smile]


Test: I would go talk to the professor/instructor in her/his next office hours (and you can send an email in advance saying you'd like to discuss your latest test.) When you're there, I'd ask if you can discuss it because you had thought you had done well but realized you don't know the content as well as you had thought. That you'd appreciate some guidance because you want to do better on the next exam. S/he could help you get back on track in that course and might even find ways to help you improve your grade on it, if not now then in the future because you're showing you care (and you do!) I'd look into tutoring because most universities have some support services, including student-to-student.

Do you chat with any classmates in that course? If you feel comfortable doing so, it might help to talk to them about the exam, like was it what they had expected, etc. etc. Study groups can be a GREAT thing (as long as they don't get too social, unless being social together in the main goal!)

Missing textbook: Where do you think you lost it? In your room or dorm, in the library or a classroom, or somewhere totally different? If you haven't already turned your room upside down, gone to all lost and founds, spoken to cleaning crews and secretaries, etc. I'd recommend doing so.

Often university libraries will have a copy of the textbook available on reference. You could ask to borrow a classmate's in the interim (I have friends who shared books all semester to save money.) You could also look into buying an older edition online, if that's a possibility.

Scholarship: I'd make a meeting asap to speak to your advisor and/or financial aid department to talk about options and where you can best get support. People totally do want to support you, but it's just figuring out where to go to get that help.

Family and friends: You know, college may be made out to be "the best four years of your life" and while I enjoyed my undergraduate education, it had some really, really hard moments (or semesters for that matter!) People do understand this. I don't think you need to tell your parents about this unless you're looking for their support (as in, help buying the book, etc.) unless you want to talk to them about it, of course.

Meeting people: I'd make it a priority to try to meet up/talk to at least two fellow students this upcoming week, be it just chatting before class or going to a meal together or hanging out this weekend. People generally like to do things with others, even those they don't know very well -- it's part of college!, but often don't think to ask or are feeling shy themselves. I'd also look into doing at least one campus event this weekend (it could be like a reading or movie or gallery opening) or check out a campus organization meeting. Those are all good ways to meet people; even if it takes time, and it certainly can, those help you get to that point.

How do those suggestions sound? How are you feeling about this now? [Smile]

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Ecofem
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I reread your post above (I remembered the gist but not all the details!) and wanted to hone my suggestions. I'd start by asking a teammate or two you find nice to hang out or someone from a club. I'd also consider possibly focusing your energy on one or two clubs (the ones you liked best!) so you can do more to bond with those members and that purpose... you might find yourself feeling less "spread thin" and have more time to just hang out.
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Ecofem
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Oh, and one more big thing: I'd start eating your meals in the cafeteria or wherever you get your food. If you're feeling bold, you can ask people if you can sit with them (why not!) or at least you may find yourself running into people you know. Because while I understand wanting private time, I can imagine how after awhile all that alone time can feel, well, lonely!

Academics may be number one but I'd say they're number one... after your personal well-being. And that means spending time in the company of people you enjoy, eating well, getting enough sleep, doing destressing activities, and getting exercise. How are those areas looking?

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