by Caroline M.
There is no experience in a young person’s life more momentous and exciting as moving out of your parent’s house. Living independently is a huge step in becoming an adult. This fall, hundreds of thousands of students will step foot on college campuses and say goodbye to their families for the first time. Like all new experiences, this moment comes with a lot of nervousness, excitement, responsibility, and lessons. As I begin my senior year, I would like to share some things I wish I had known when I left for college.
You will have new responsibilities
While this is an obvious statement, many students don’t realize what exactly comes with going to college and living independently. At home, I sometimes cooked dinner for my family, washed the dishes, and made sure I had clean laundry; but there was always someone to cover for me. Living on my own, everything is up to me. It is my responsibility to make healthy decisions at the cafeteria (and make sure I get there in time to eat before it closes), do my laundry, and stay on top of school work.
Communication is key
College was the first time I lived with people other than my family. My dorm room was built to hold 2 students, but there were 3 of us sharing it! I learned quickly that good communication is essential to getting along with roommates. Sharing such a small space could have been a nightmare, but since my roommates and I discussed rules for studying in the room, having friends over, taking out garbage, and “quiet” hours, we got through the year without a single argument. Living in small spaces can be stressful, but establishing expectations, respecting each other, and communicating are the key.
Keep a schedule
Get a planner. I would have been lost without recording everything in my planner. Writing down my work schedule, babysitting, homework/exams, and dates to pay my rent/bills is the best way to get organized and make sure I don’t forget an important exam or get charged a late fee on my bills. When you first go to college and live on your own, you will have so much going on that it is impossible to remember it all without keeping a calendar.
With only 15 or so hours of class time a week, many students find that they have a lot of free time. Instead of watching re-runs of TV shows, find something meaningful to do with your time. Join an intramural sports team, take a part-time job, or get involved with a club. It will help you build new relationships and make connections that will be important when you look for your first job. Attending business workshops was not my favorite way to spend my free time, but in doing so I met my business mentor, developed relationships with the counselors in the business office, and landed an internship! By the end of your college career, you want to be sure you have something to say about how to spent the past 4+ years that is more than sitting through a class lecture.
Leaving home is an exciting time to learn more about yourself and take on new responsibilities and challenges. It is a first step in establishing yourself as an adult. Transitioning into adulthood can be stressful and scary at times. Talbert House offers a 281-CARE hotline to help anyone who is feeling distressed or needs help. It is a lot easier to take care of a problem early on before it develops into something bigger. Talbert House also provides school-based services to assist families with students K-12.