Thinking about college as a high schooler, I onlyhad a vague idea of what college would be like. My previous understanding about college was shaped mostly by my high school college counseling or interactions at college fairs. And of course, I did a lot of research on College Confidential. Coming to college as an international student was challenging, to say the least. Looking back, there are so many things I wish I had known.
Fast forward four years, two jobs, three clubs and three dorms later. College is a whole lot different than what I thought or expected coming into orientation freshman year. For me, being so far away from home, away from my family and friends, and trying to make sense of a whole new place with a different crowd made college a lot bigger and harder of an adjustment to make than what I had imagined.
I gave my younger brother three main pieces of advice when he was an incoming freshman:
1) Leave your dorm door open.
It’s a friendly invitation to get to know people in the first couple of weeks –– please do close your door eventually though!
2) Go up to people and make conversation.
This sounds weird, but in the first couple of weeks, you can do it. Find a familiar face that you might recognize from your floor or a class and start talking — you never know where it might lead!
3) College (like a lot of things in life) is what you make of it.
Whether it’s a personal/social/academic/professional thing, it’s up to you to take the first step, even if it’s outside your comfort zone. One thing that is both beautiful yet daunting is the number of possibilities and opportunities college gifts us. Explore, experiment and find what’s right for you. Take time to discover all there is, figure out who you are and who you want to be, and, most, importantly find your support system.
College doesn’t have to be the best four years (give or take) of your life as it seems in the movies. It might be, but even if it’s not, there are some beautiful moments along the way. Enjoy the ride!
Neha is a senior studying marketing, advertising, and entrepreneurship in the Media School. She’s one of 12 Indiana University students featured in the IU 2020 Series, a four-year documentary film produced by student interns in the Office of the Provost for the IU Bicentennial.