What to Expect at College

This article was originally written for FirstGenerationStudent.com, now a part of ImFirst.org.

So what else can you expect as you start your college journey?

Culture Shock

Many first-generation college students are initially shocked by the social and economic disparities on campus. Going to a four-year university may lead you to feel insecure about your own academic abilities, background, or even the way you talk. As a first-generation college student it’s normal for your academic confidence to get shaken, but don’t let it lead to skipping class or withdrawing from class. Odds are that you’re not the only one who feels “different.” Find out if your school has a program for first-generation college students; get involved if they do. Check out the various student organizations on campus or reach out to those like you and provide support to each other if there isn’t a group that fits.

A LOT More Freedom Than You’ve Ever Had

One of the best and worst things about college is that you’ll finally have the freedom you always craved in high school. No one will be checking to make sure you are back in your dorm at a reasonable hour, and no one will be there to wake you up for your 8 a.m. Astronomy class, either. You are solely responsible for how you do in college, so make wise choices when it comes to when you party and when you study.“Never lose sight of what you are there to do: earn a college degree.”

Demanding Classes

Some people sail through high school, acing every exam without cracking a book. If that was you in high school, get ready for a wake-up call. Arts and humanities classes often demand a great deal of reading and writing. Pop quizzes and exams are frequently administered to ensure you are keeping up with the subject matter. Dedicate time each day to keeping up with your class assignments and above all, go to class. You are paying to be there, remember?

People Like You

It’s why you wanted to go to college all along, right? The good news is that you will find people who are passionate about the same things you are passionate about. You’ll find people who share your beliefs and interests, so don’t despair if your roommate turns out to be your complete and total opposite. In other words, you’ll find people as motivated and as ambitious as you are.

Remember why you chose to go to college in the first place—you wanted more for yourself and you worked hard to get there. Yes, there will be stress. Yes, you will feel at times overwhelmed, but never lose sight of what you are there to do: earn a college degree—and have a little fun along the way.