So, here it is….August already, smack in the middle of the traditional dog days of summer – the days connected with heat, drought, sudden thunderstorms, lethargy, fever, mad dogs. But, for many, this is also the time of changing moods as students have tired of their summer activities and are ready for their next adventures.
Rising college freshman are likely having mixed feelings about these impending changes. Some will be starting jobs, some will be embarking on a gap year, some will be starting coursework at their local community college or vocational school, and some will be moving on to a four-year residential campus near or far from their families and friends. For those students who are leaving their family home to move on to a college campus, some are excited to be starting these new adventures, while others are scared to leave what is familiar. Most are experiencing both excitement and anxiety. This is normal. This is healthy. This is okay.
Be excited about your next steps. Prepare as well as you can, making sure you’ve submitted all the required paperwork and forms: transcripts, test scores, housing deposits, etc. If you haven’t already had your orientation and registered for your fall courses, review the school catalog and curriculum requirements now so that you’ll know what courses you’d like to register for when you go to your orientation. If you’ve already registered for your courses, then take some time to review the course descriptions in the catalog and purchase/rent your books if you can, so that you have some idea what you’ll be learning when you arrive on campus.
Then take some time to engage with fellow new students at your campus via social media. Introduce yourself to others, reach out to club coordinators for activities that you intend to participate in. This should help alleviate some of your fear and anxiety as you will know some names (and maybe some faces) when you arrive.
Then, relax and enjoy these last few weeks with your family and friends. It will be emotional as you begin to experience the “last time you’ll eat pizza at your favorite Italian restaurant” or the “last time you’ll enjoy watching a movie with your little sister” or the “last time you’ll hang out at your best friend’s back yard pool” for a while. It will be emotional as you make decisions about what you want to bring to your new campus and what you’ll be leaving behind. It will be emotional as you say goodbye (for now) to your family. It will be emotional as you think about moving into your new dorm and meeting new people, some who you’ll connect with, and some who you won’t like at all.
But, like the dog days of summer, these emotions will pass. You will miss your friends and family. You may be homesick. It will likely take some time before you feel at home on your campus (sometimes it takes months). But, then, one day, the emotions you feel won’t be anxiety or sadness or loneliness, but enthusiasm and pride and joy. And, you’ll have great stories and experiences to share with your family and friends when you return. So, go ahead and enjoy these last hot days of summer. Just stay away from those mad dogs.