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Accepted into College—Now What?

Updated on August 17, 2019
drmiddlebrook profile image

Former university professor of marketing and communications, is an independent publisher and marketing/communications consultant.

First Year, First Time Living Away from Home

Colleen got accepted into college, and now she is away from home, on her own, for the first time in her life. She is a grown-up, even though she still has to use “teen” to say her age. Age 18, she doesn’t know yet if she feels grown-up or not, because she hasn’t been grown-up long enough to know what it’s supposed to feel like. Most days, she still feels like a teenager, and a teenager is still a child—right? But now she is a college student, living away from home, away from her parents. And even though she doesn't know what to expect, she knows she must be ready for the challenges of being on her own for the first time. After all, she took the plunge—filled out the applications, got accepted into the school she wanted to attend, enrolled, and now her parents have dropped her off, for four years, to go to college. Welcome to “Survivor—College Island.”

It's been hard saying good-bye to yesterday, to the familiarity of home and high school. But Colleen knows it's time for her to leave home and begin life on her own. In high school, she had plenty of good friends, got top grades, and graduated with honors. She wants to do the same thing as a college student, but she knows she has to do it on her own, without her parents guiding her every day. She has to make new friends and start fresh. Being on her own for the first time, everything feels new to her, and sort of strange. Will she make the right choices while living away from home for the first time? How will she know when she's making the right choices? Although her parents are just a phone call away, they still aren't around like when she lived at home. Facing reality, she knows she'll only be able to depend on herself, day by day, to do the right things. Will she be able to manage her life well enough to get to classes on time? Will she manage study and coursework well while taking care of all the activities of daily living she'll need to take care of, while also doing all she needs to do to make the grades she needs to stay in college? I think you'll enjoy following this three-part Hub which follows a fictitious college student, “Colleen,” through some of what she will encounter, and some of the decisions she will have to make, during her four years of college.

Colleen brought her favorite teddy bear with her from home, and she is not leaving him packed away in a box. Mr. Aimsley, her bear, is going to be stationed on her pillow, day and night, and he'll help Colleen feel secure and connected to home, and he'll help protect her dreams, the same way he protected them when she was growing up.

Hi readers. I created this story about a fictitious college student named "Colleen" to represent an average college student who is faced with all the typical challenges college students need to rise above to be successful, as a college student. I am a graduate of three different colleges, I have three college degrees, including a Ph.D., and I worked as a college professor for over 15 years. Yes, I am well qualified to tell this story. In this story, which I made up based on my own experiences as a college student, I'll be comparing going away to college to a real-life version of the reality television game show Survivor. Young women like Colleen and other students are essentially “marooned” on an island called “college,” and they have to figure out how to survive there in order to leave the island, preferably in four years or less, by completing a degree program and then graduating. Okay, so there may be sixteen-thousand players (or more), instead of 16, like on the TV show, Survivor, but still, the way the show operates provides a pretty good metaphor for the college experience. In the game of Survivor—College Island, students--who are all participants in the game, must work together to survive, just as tribe members must work together on Survivor. They have to find and secure shelter, food, and must figure out how to get rewards (scholastic achievements and on-campus recognition and/or awards). And, even though no one is “voted out” or cast away from the island by the other tribe members, there are certainly a variety of hazards that can cause a student to be taken out of the game, if they are not careful.

Now let's continue our story.

College: Surviving the First Semester

After the initial shock wore off—from completing and graduating from high school, leaving home, and going to college to begin her first year, Colleen accepted that her life had changed. Now living in a new reality called "college," she quickly realized she had to learn how to swim in her new world, or she’d surely sink.

At first, it was a little hard, learning how to manage her time, her classes, and her studies, but soon Colleen’s first fall semester was over. She learned how important it is to manage her time well, she made several new friends and acquaintances, she established a "study routine" that helped her do well in her classes, and, after doing all that, she started feeling more confident about being away from home. She feels a lot more confident about her scholastic abilities, and she knows she is responsible—to a great degree, for keeping herself safe since is away from the daily care and the watchful eyes of her parents. It wasn't easy, and she faced many daily and weekly challenges, but she has survived and thrived. Colleen has learned to take good care of herself. She gets up every day in time to take care of personal needs so that she can get to class on time, she regulates her "social time" and her study habits, and she takes good care of her physical health and fitness while also nurturing her mental health. She knows that she must do all these things well in order to do well in her classes, so that she can make the kinds of grades she's capable of making. Off to a good start, she has made it through the first semester of Year One, and now she knows college is not the "monster" she once thought it might be. Although she realizes her journey has only just begun, she also knows she is up to the challenges, and she is looking forward to her second semester of college.

© 2012 Sallie B Middlebrook PhD

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