College ends up being not as storybook as expected

By Emilie Woods ’16, Contributing Writer

Let’s face it: college is very, very hard, and I’m not just  talking about the academics.

However, before I left home to start this whirlwind of a time, all I heard from the people around me was about the wonderful things I would soon experience. They told me of the lifelong friends they had made and about how badly they wanted to be in my shoes, starting college again.

While I’m all about positivity, I’ve come to be annoyed by this, for something was clearly absent from their joyful reminiscing. How come they didn’t tell me? How come they didn’t tell me that for some, college is filled with homesickness? How come they didn’t let me know that in the beginning, it is normal to feel like you don’t really belong?

If I had known these things, I would have felt less shocked by the difficulty I experienced in my first few months away from home. As young adults living on our own for the first time, we have to deal with so many new obstacles. I am disappointed by the fact that the hard things about college are silenced by the fact that all we know going into it is that these are going to be some of the greatest years of our lives.

I am certainly not trying to say that college is a horrible time — it is not in any sense. But, there are those days. The days that we feel lonely. The days when we can barely sleep. The days when we are counting down until we can be home again, until we can be comforted by whomever it is that takes care of us there. We don’t have our Mom or Dad here to hold us at the end of an awful week, or to tell us to take a deep breath, because it’s all going to be okay. We’re on our own — at least at first. Figuring this out soon into my first year of college, I realized that I needed some extra support. Although speaking to my mom and sister on the phone multiple times a week was helpful, what I needed was someone physically there for me.

So, I sought people out. Having grown particularly fond of my advisor last year, I became aware that she was someone to whom I could go when I needed support. Thus, she became a kind of crutch for me. I would go into Professor Wallach’s office throughout the year not just to plan my academic schedule, but also to get her advice. As an intelligent woman whom I also had the privilege of calling my professor, I looked up to her immensely, and still do. She put confidence in me at a time when I was feeling a little lost, and assured me that I was doing just fine when I wasn’t really sure if I was. As the year went on, I came to realize that Professor Wallach cared about my well-being; she wanted to see me succeed, and had full confidence that I would. Knowing that someone (and especially one whom you admire so much) believes in you is the best medicine for a young person. It certainly was for me.

The truth is, college can make you feel like a wreck. Boys, girls, hard classes, making friends — you name it — none of it is easy, and it is just too difficult for one 19-year-old to handle all by herself. Having a mentor enabled me to find a strength within myself that I don’t think I would have discovered on my own. Clearly, I was beyond lucky to have crossed Professor Wallach’s path last year. I realize that sometimes college students aren’t as fortunate in terms of their advisors. However, there are countless faculty members who are here because they seriously care about students, and who would give the shirts off their backs to any of us.

Let’s seek these amazing people out, guys. They are there, waiting for us. Maybe she’s your advisor, or someone in Counseling Services. Maybe it’s that professor that you adore. With the right people giving us the support we need to be the best college kids we can be, this time will be so much less of a battle. In fact, we have to fight for it not to be a battle—we have to fight in order for it to be (yes, indeed) some of the greatest years of our lives. To do this, we need mentors. We need counselors. We need any smart adult who will just be there for us. As young adults, there is so much we still have to learn about life, and these people are the some of main ones who will teach us. Who doesn’t want a support system? Not me. Having transferred schools, I too, need to find a new one for myself. If there is someone here (and I know there is) who can be my go-to person when times are a bit rough, all I have to say is, sign me up.

Emilie Woods is a sophomore. She is a contributing writer to The College Reporter. Email her at ewoods@fandm.edu.

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