Top 4 Things First Year College Students Worry About

Here’s a secret that many recent high school graduates will adamantly deny. They are TERIFFIED about heading off to college. Even though they may pretend to be relaxed and ready, there are likely several things that are weighing heavy on their minds.

The first step to helping your teen handle their anxiety is to be aware of what they really fear about the whole college experience.  Here are a few of the top fears I hear from my clients:

  1. Am I smart enough?

Many teens wonder if they will be able to continue to earn A’s and B’s like they did in high school. Even students who have taken honors and AP classes in high school often worry that they may not be able handle the increased work load that will inevitably come with college level course work. One student recently said to me, “Everyone in college is going to be smart.  What if I can’t compete?”

What your teen needs to know:

The best recipe for academic success in college includes three things: time management, organization, and using your resources (study centers, professor office hours, tutoring, etc.)

  1. What if my roommate is weird?

Moving out of your parents’ home and into a small space with a stranger can be nerve wracking. It’s a great lesson in learning to tolerate other people’s differences. My freshman year roommate ate onions like they were apples. I learned to live with the smell.

What your teen needs to know:

Compromise is key. They will need to find a way to respect each other’s space and needs. It’s good to remember that Resident Assistants are trained to help work out any roommate differences.

  1. What if I get homesick?

Missing your family and your dog is completely normal. Many teens worry that they won’t adjust well to college life and will end up coming home. One of my clients set up a weekly Skype date with her parents and siblings. She knew she could call them anytime, but looked forward to her set aside weekly family time.

What your teen needs to know:

It’s ok to have some bad days and want to go home. It can be helpful to fill your time with activities that make you happy. Try taking a workout class, joining a club, or playing an intermural sport. The more connected you are to other people, the stronger your support system will be. If the homesick feelings don’t go away, make sure you talk to a friend, your Resident Assistant, or go to the counseling center for some extra support.

  1. How am I going to pay for all of this?

In addition to the cost of tuition, your teen needs to eat, purchase books, and have some extra spending money. Where does all of that money come from? How to get money, how to spend it, and how to have enough to last are all important skills they will need to learn.

What your teen needs to know:

Cheaper meals, books, and entertainment do exist. Make sure you shop around for deals, use coupons, and seek out free activities. Look for a part time job that would allow you to study at work. Don’t open up multiple credit cards. The free blanket isn’t worth it.

What else is your teen fearful of? We’d love to hear what’s on their mind and how you’re helping them cope. Comment below and feel free to share this post with anyone who may benefit from reading it.

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Natalie Borrell

Natalie Borrell is a school psychologist and academic life coach for high school students. It is her mission to motivate teenagers to discover their potential and to dream big!
Through private coaching sessions and workshops, she teaches teenagers new ways of thinking about their lives and encourages them to push through limiting beliefs that may be holding them back from achieving their goals and dreams.
When she's not working to better the world one teen a time, you can find her on Pinterest, pretending to be a dinosaur with her toddler son, or reading cookbooks word for word like they were novels.

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