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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Saturday, October 01, 2022
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How to compartmentalize your college experience

As an older sister who holds just under seven months of life experience over her younger sister, all summer I was asked questions related to the intimidating concept of going to college. From my sister’s perspective, I’m seen as an expert in all things related to college. 

Going to college is one of the biggest milestones in a young person’s life. You are immediately bombarded with an enormous amount of change and independence. Honestly, no one can prepare you for going to college — nor can they predict what may happen. The best I can do is provide some basic advice I wish I knew — or now know — to utilize in my future years. 

First things first, everyone feels the same way you do. I know it’s hard to not compare yourself to other people. We all do it, but I can guarantee every single incoming freshman is anxious about meeting people, starting their classes, discovering who they are and experiencing the rest of the ideas that go hand-in-hand with how college is “supposed” to go. Not only does everyone feel those same nerves, but it’s also completely normal to feel that way. Once I realized that, I could focus on not letting those challenges hold me back in any way. 

Something I advised my younger sister to do was to think of college in increments and not as a large, drastic, permanent change in life. Moving away from home and becoming an independent sounds so intimidating and stressful; I found that it’s best to think of the first few months of college as just that, a few months. Next thing you know, it’s November and you are home for Thanksgiving. 

The overwhelming concepts of college and independence can be simplified into three months until you are back home — three months until you are reunited with family and your bed to eat turkey and mashed potatoes. 

Going back to school after Thanksgiving is much less overwhelming than the initial move in. Your space is organized, you know what to expect and just a month later, it’s winter break. By the time winter break is reaching an end — if you’re anything like me — you will be itching to get back to school and away from your family after having discovered your newfound independence. 

My final piece of advice I would offer is to not place all this pressure on yourself to discover who you are, what your purpose is in life or exactly what your future is going to look like. That’s not realistic. Yes, try new things and put yourself out there. Look for classes and clubs you enjoy. Maybe that will lead to a career, maybe not. 

There are opportunities awaiting. Let yourself enjoy this time because these four years fly by. The small increments of time broken down make college seem less intimidating, but it also proves how quickly the years vanish. I can hardly believe I’m already a quarter through my college experience, coming into school as the now knowledgeable sophomore my sister sees me as. 

Overall, my main advice is to enjoy it. Take in the little moments. Learn more about yourself, and take risks. And by this time next year, you’ll be an expert. 

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