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Surviving the First Year of College

Updated on June 4, 2013
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Dr. Middlebrook is a fiction/non-fiction writing coach, author (pen name Beax Rivers), virtual trainer, and former university professor.

Survivor—College Island—Will Colleen Outlast, Outwit, and Outplay, to Get Her Degree, with Honors?

Colleen 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 anyway, 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 make new friends and start fresh. Everything feels new to her now, 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 choice? Her parents aren't around like when she lived at home, and now she will only be able to depend on herself to do the right things. Will she be able to do her work, everything she needs to do to make the grades she needs to stay in college? This three-part Hub follows our 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 at college.

Colleen still feels like a little girl. She even 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 to feel secure. Just like he did when she was a little girl.

Hi readers. I'm the person who created, and who is telling, this story about a fictitious college student named "Colleen." 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 16 thousand players (or many thousands more), instead of 16, like on the TV show, Survivor, but still, it’s a pretty good metaphor. In the game of Survivor—College Island, the members all must work together too, in some ways not too unlike tribe members on Survivor. They have to find food, shelter, and figure out how to get rewards, primarily in the form of good grades. 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.

The First Semester

After the initial shock wears off—from leaving high school, leaving home, and coming to college for the first time, Colleen accepts that her life has changed. She is now inside a new reality called college, and she realizes she has to learn to swim there, or she’ll surely sink.

At first, it was a little hard, learning to manage her time, her classes, and her studies, but soon Colleen’s first fall semester is over and she feels a little more confident about being away at school, out of the care and watchful eyes of her parents. But, she made it through, so she knows college is not the end of the world that she thought it would be on her first day there. She had to learn to get up every day and get to class on time, and to regulate her study habits so that she could make good grades.

Be sure to read:

Colleen Continues Her First Year at College

Can Colleen Conquer Her Last Two Years of College?

If you like reading stories involving college students, you might also like this romantic fiction novel:

Beax Rivers’ novel, Silver—Currents of Change. Zarah, who finished high school three years earlier than most, is a very young college student. After struggling and fighting to fit in, in high school, she went to college and discovered she had to find a way to fit in there too. As a senior, after winning her “dream internship” working in publishing at a magazine, her life changes dramatically, and once again, she finds herself having to take on, yet again, an extremely tough set of challenges.

© 2012 Sallie B Middlebrook PhD


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