Ask any student if fear of college fills their minds. Some of them will admit their fear of college, others won’t.
Are you afraid of college? You shouldn’t be. If you were successful in high school, you’ll be successful in college.
It’s ok to be afraid of college. It’s a new experience. I was afraid of the term “college” in high school. In my last semester of high school, I couldn’t wait to enter adulthood.
I didn’t know what “adulthood” meant but I wanted to be apart of it. I wanted my own identity. I was tired of my parents telling me what to do.
My dad didn’t preach college to me. He expected good grades (A’s and B’s), nothing “tiger-momish” though.
Months following graduation, I found part-time work at a fast food restaurant. I also enrolled at a local community college despite an undecided major and lack of funds.
Through it all, transitioning out of my parents home, working and paying bills, in the back of my mind I had second thoughts about college.
- What if I’m not smart enough?
- What if classes are too hard?
- What if work gets in the way?
- I’m not a good reader or writer, does that matter?
- Will my teacher be mean?
- What if I’m late to class, will I be dropped?
I believed going to college was my meal ticket to better paying jobs, peer recognition, status in life and self-confidence.
You may think and feel like I did. I’m here to tell you, you’re good enough. You’re smart, resourceful, intelligent and skillful.
Here are five laws to conquer you’re fear of college.
Law #1: Stick to the Plan
When you decide to enroll in college, stick to it. It’s ok if you haven’t decided on a major. Complete the general education courses first.
I don’t know many students new to college who have a definitive major in mind. Often times, taking a course will prompt you to change your mind on a major.
Sticking to the plan isn’t about coming out of the gate with a career in mind, it’s about staying in college. I recommend taking no breaks between spring and summer sessions. And definitely, no leave of absences from school due to family or personal issues.
Leave of absences tend to become permanent.
Law #2: Take It One Day at a Time
Take it one day at a time. You hear this saying over and over but it’s true. Why rush yourself? Why put pressure on yourself to learn everything day one of a college course?
Relax. Take it easy. College courses are divided in sections and weeks for a reason – to allow students time to absorb the course content. If you’re like me, it might never sink in and that’s ok. Some courses will bore you to death, others will grab your attention with the course title.
Don’t overwhelm yourself or apply added pressure to learn everything right out of the gate. College is a marathon. If you’ve ran in P.E. class you understand you need to preserve your energy over the long haul of a mile-run. If not, what happens?
You’ll tire out and spend years in meaningless courses.
Law #3: Learn From Current and Past Students
The Internet is an awesome resource. Why not harness its power to map out the do’s and don’ts of college life from students who already succeeded in college?
“What do you fear about college?” The work? Teachers? The responsibility of the whole experience?
Fear arises because you don’t know what awaits you. You think of the worse that can happen and use past failures as validation. Or, you look at other people’s failures and think you’ll experience a similar fate.
Remember, another person’s failures or successes are based on that individual. They have no bearing on your failures or successes. If you hear other students talk about how hard college is, don’t let them discourage you or make you think it’s harder than it looks.
You don’t know their work ethic. You don’t know how much time they invest in reading and studying. You don’t know the distractions playing in their head. You don’t know anything but what that individual says.
Discussion boards and forums are excellent tools to find out what worked for other students. Listen to those opinions, ideas and fears. Don’t be shy about expressing your concerns or asking questions.
You’re paying or going to pay a pretty little penny to attend college. Why not get the most bang for your buck?
Don’t let someone discourage you with their point-of-view. The whole point of reading what others have to say is to ease your fears or resolve some unknowns about college life.
Fear is nothing more than a spirit. It’s merely a perception in which you have all the power to overcome.
Law #4: You’re Smarter than You Think
You’re not smart, so you think. You’re dumb and barely graduated high school. But you graduated. You must have some fight in you to graduate high school.
Nothing in life is easy. Let me repeat, nothing worth fighting for is easy.
Your family may be filled with highly educated people who graduated from prestigious universities. So what! Nobody cares what he or she did.
The divide between smart and dumb people isn’t genetics – it’s time and energy. What are you good at? Why are you good?
I bet my peanut-sized paycheck it’s because you invest a boatload of time doing it – you practice on it more than anything else. If you spend day and night doing something, you’re perfecting your craft.
Smart people and over achievers have similar characteristics – they work harder than anyone else at their craft. You’re just as smart – when you want to be. You may not be smart in math or science, but you’re smart in creativity and sports.
You may not be smart in sports or creativity, but you may be smart in reading, writing and critically thinking. This is the beauty of individuality, each of us is born with a unique gift – something were really good at.
But Josh, I graduated high school with a 2.0 GPA. So! I know plenty of people who graduated with a 4.9 GPA and they’re serving food at McDonald’s. Explain that to me?
You’re smart. You’re intelligent. You have a gift, find it and become the best. Don’t allow a tough college subject deter you from obtaining a college degree. Use those opportunities to strengthen your weaknesses.
Law #5: Find Out What’s Expected of You
Eww…expectations…you hate them. Well, think of expectations as what you’re capable of doing. Yup, expectations aren’t for instructors, it’s for students – it’s for you.
College expects one thing of you – to attend. If you attend class, you can achieve your dream of a college degree. When you know what you can or cannot do, you develop a clear path of how to get to the end.
Every college course will contain a course syllabus detailing assignments, objectives and important information. You’re not alone in a college course. Instructors, advisors and students are your resources. Use them.
Before you enroll in a class, read the course syllabus. Does it align with your degree program? Can you invest the time required to complete it?
You can complete any class you put your mind to, as long as you know what’s expected of you.