Incoming Freshman: Asking the Big Questions

by Emily Elizabeth Smith, Great Lakes student

As the first year of college is fast approaching, incoming freshman will have a wide variety of questions jumbled up inside their brain. In addition to worrying about college admission deadlines and finishing up high school, you may have questions about college once you get here. 

College is a whole new world of various academic environments, living conditions, relationships, and pivotal decisions that will impact your future.

Are you stressed about choosing the college that is right for you?

What about the anxieties that come with uprooting and relocating to your new dorm room?

Are you looking to find answers to all of your questions before your first day at college?

Well, let’s start with the fact that you are not going to have every minute detail worked out right away.  Adjusting to college life takes time, and the answers to your questions will trickle in rather than be squared away all at once.

In this article, you’ll discover some of the answers to your questions provided by a junior in college who has asked all of the same questions that you are asking right now.

#1: How different is college compared to high school?

Most incoming freshman have seen the movies where college is portrayed as a fantasy land where parties take priority over studying for finals and professors don’t care whether you attend class or not. Let’s reshuffle this mythical misconception of the college experience. The differences between college and high school are not simply bad vs. good, black or white. Some of those differences are seen in the schedule flexibility, course options, workload, and relationships with professors.

College gives you the opportunity to finally start choosing what you do and don’t want to study along with time slot options that work best for you. In high school, a large portion of the learning and coursework happens inside the classroom as you usually have the same classes every day of the week. With college courses being every few days rather than every day, there is an expectation that one will utilize the tools taught in the classroom to continue their learning outside of the classroom. The workloads are often more intense because you have more time between each class that needs to be filled with learning. This requires a diligent homework schedule and effective time management skills.

High school students tend to have the misconception that college professors are indifferent and do not concern themselves with each student’s personal success. Putting aside the traits of the college party movies, real-world professors treat their students with respect and decency, even if the student is struggling. The best professors establish a critical learning environment that allows students to rethink assumptions and absorb life lessons that will be of use throughout the rest of a student’s life.

College professors have advanced knowledge of their discipline and often realize that everything they believe can be questioned. It is critical for students to recognize that the professors have important insights into how human beings learn and how to foster that learning through an environment allowing students to try, fail, learn, and grow.  

One of the most important pieces of advice that can be given here is to never be afraid to ask questions.

If you are struggling, the professors want to help you succeed and reach your academic and personal goals. Don’t get caught in a rut and fall behind in your goals because you are nervous to approach the professor; they are there for you to become a well-rounded student and citizen.

Related: Student-to-Faculty Ratio: Why is it important?

#2: What is dorm life like?

Dorm rooms: one of the biggest worries an incoming freshman will face as move-in-day approaches. Most freshman come into college hoping that they will become best friends with their roommate. But what if that doesn't happen? It is important that students make the most of their dorm experience. Living in dorms is a great opportunity to meet lifelong friends and network with other students. Learning to live in close quarters with a stranger can seem daunting. First, remember that your roommate most likely has these same concerns that you do which might include:

  1. Noise

  2. Privacy

  3. Cleanliness

  4. Mixing personalities

  5. Conflicting schedules

The best steps to take when you have these concerns is to simply have a conversation with your roommate to learn about each other’s habits, personalities, and preferences. Make sure to be polite and open to your roommate’s style of living, just as you want them to be with you. Your roommate will be one of the first people you will get to know at college, so make an effort to build a relationship whether you want to be best friends or simply friendly living acquaintances.

Even giving your best effort sometimes isn’t enough. If there are issues, keep your Resident Assistant in the loop to have that third-party help during disagreements. If having a roommate just isn’t right for you, most colleges have single dorm options. If something in your living conditions isn’t working out for you, be sure to reach out and ask about these living alternatives.

Related: Dorm Room Essentials

#3: Will I be able to make friends?

Your college might be miles away from home, and you won't be surrounded by the people you've known for years. A key tip for this new adjustment is to see the transition to college as an opportunity for a fresh start to surround yourself with lifelong friends that will grow alongside you on your undergraduate journey.

Most colleges have some built-in tools to help kickstart this process, such as welcome week events, clubs, sports teams, and study groups. However, these can be uncomfortable for those who are more introverted. Some opportunities to spark a new relationship can be as simple as:

  • making eye contact and smiling at another student when passing by in the hallway
  • complimenting them on their outfit
  • asking your classroom neighbor questions related to the lecture
  • doing your homework in the library
  • being project partners
These alternatives are less boisterous and shockingly invasive. The most important trick to making new friends is to be approachable! Take a little extra time in the mornings to look your best! Keep your eyes and head up while walking between classes, walk with confidence, and keep your body language open and friendly!

 

Final Thoughts

The list of questions could go on for miles, but what makes the college transition easier is knowing you're not the only one who doesn't know exactly what they're doing or what to expect. Just as it will for other freshman around you, it will take time to adjust to this lifestyle change. Continue to ask those big questions and every little question in between—you will find answers. College is an unforgettable experience that is unique to each individual, so embrace this opportunity and seek to stretch and grow yourself into the person you aspire to be!  

Discover More about Great Lakes

To learn more about Great Lakes, our admissions process, programs we offer or to schedule a tour, please contact us:

Greg Stauffer, VP of Enrollment Management (On Campus)

Phone: (517) 321-0242 ext. 230

Email: gstauffer@glcc.edu

Jon Jakubowski, Director of Online and Adult Classes

Phone: 517-321-0242, ext 249

Email: jjakubowski@glcc.edu

Click here for more info on our online programs.

We can't wait to hear from you! 




Emily Elizabeth Smith is a twenty-one-year-old college student attending Great Lakes Christian College where she is double majoring in Interpersonal and Organizational Communication and Bible Theology. She previously attended Alma College and Lansing Community College but decided to transfer to Great Lakes  to immerse herself in an environment where she can mature in her faith and build personal, lifelong relationships with her professors and peers. She is a strong writer winning various awards throughout her schooling career such as the campus-wide poetry contest at Alma College. Emily’s plans after her time at Great Lakes are to use her invaluable skills to serve as a Kingdom representative of God and invest herself in enabling others to do their best, allowing communicative teamwork to move her into the professional workforce.