5 Things All Central NY College Freshmen Should Know
Whether you're heading to Hamilton, Cornell, or Mohawk Valley Community College, all college freshmen will share the same culture shock.
Congratulations! You've finished decorating your dorm room and are finally ready to experience the wonders of adulthood.
But, before you realize your true independence, buckle up and get ready to learn some uncomfortable truths about freshman year.
1. You will gain weight
There's no way to sugarcoat this. While the fabled "freshman 15" has been debunked by health experts many times over, it is common for new college students to put on a few pounds.
It happened to me, too. But just know there are several factors that can contribute to unexpected or unwanted weight gain.
First off, students are able to finally set their own eating schedule and diet, which could lead to unhealthy snacking habits. Some campuses have coffee shops right on premise while others have cafeterias stocked with a variety of offerings. When students can suddenly access things like smoothies or pizza whenever they want, the temptation to indulge can arise.
Secondly, college can be stressful and science has proven too much stress can lead to weight gain thanks to a nifty hormone called cortisol. The Mayo Clinic explains our brain naturally produces it during times of stress, but too much of it can trigger a host of problems -- like weight gain. If you feel like you're unable to manage your stress, most colleges offer resources to help you get back on track.
Thirdly, a lack of sleep can lead to weight gain. Exhausted people tend to consume more calories for energy, which could cause the scale numbers to rise. While living under your own roof means you can burn the midnight oil whenever you want, be conscious that it could impact your health in other, negative ways. It also should be noted stress can disrupt sleep patterns, thus increasing chances of weight gain.
Lastly, it's no secret that you will encounter alcohol at parties. Alcohol triggers weight gain in several ways, from stopping your body from burning fat to increasing hunger and making a person crave salty or greasy food.
Disclaimer: The legal drinking age in the United States is 21.
2. You will have dorm drama
Sometimes you will have a lovely roommate that you instantly click with during freshman year - but it's more likely you'll have to navigate some rough, interpersonal waters. What do you expect when you find yourself living with strangers that were randomly assigned together? There will be miscommunications, boundaries crossed, hogged bathrooms and other wonderful things that will push you out of your comfort zone.
How you handle having your boat constantly rocked will impact how well you get along with your roommates. There will be times where you will have to work to maintain harmony, but there are others where you might have to elevate the issue to your resident advisor (RA) to help mediate.
But, there are moments where you have to be re-assigned a roommate because the incompatibilities are too great. That happened to me. My roommate was hellbent on having the dormroom completely to herself, so she pulled all the stops to get me to move out. The boiling point was when she would wake up at 2 in the morning, shined her lamp on me like a spot light so I would wake up, and proceed to do all her homework while playing music. I was assigned a new roommate -- we clicked and roomed together throughout college.
In all, a bunch of strangers will be living under the same roof for the first time. Drama will ensue as you figure each other out and learn to coexist.
3. You will regret your morning class, even if you are an early bird
I won't lie, I habitually picked classes that started at 8 or 9 in the morning because I always thought it meant my day would be finished a lot sooner. Yet, that somehow always wound up biting me on the butt.
True, scheduling earlier class times does allow you to enjoy your day sooner, college also gives you the amazing opportunity to sleep in every day. There will be mornings when you wake up for your early class and consider skipping because you're so tired. That's the issue when you are the only person holding yourself accountable.
Your parents or siblings aren't around to shake you awake or drive you to school. It's highly unlikely your roommate would want to take on that responsibility, either.
That said, if you're someone who relishes sleeping in - you might want to avoid the early classes. You can suffer through your morning alarm when you nab that 9 to 5 in a few years.
But, here's some advice to help those who had no choice but to enroll in an early class - sleep facing the window and leave the blinds open so the morning light can help ease you awake. It's definitely not as brutal as an alarm blaring at ungodly hours. But you might want to check with your roommate first before going ahead with this plan.
4. You will procrastinate
Just like I said in the earlier segment, you will be the only one holding yourself accountable. There will be moments you might not feel it's urgent to do a homework assignment or study for a test. Plus, you might wrestle with the feeling your studying is cutting into valuable time to make friends or enjoy new experiences.
Add in the fact you can doomscroll TikTok whenever you want without your parents threatening to take away your phone, you are bound to make a lapse of judgement somewhere. It's perfectly normal.
It's also common to receive a grade that is the direct result of you not putting in enough effort - either because you were overconfident or were too distracted. It's a wicked wake up call, for sure.
If you don't feel super jazzed about a particular assignment or upcoming test, try studying in the library. Yeah, I know that sounds unappealing, but the atmosphere there can help you tap into the right mindset to finally get the studying started. It also might not hurt to befriend a few classmates you can reach out to and invite to tag along for moral support or motivation.
Also, it also helps to build relationships with your professors and take advantage of their office hours. Their passion for their profession can be infectious, which can help better engage you in class.
5. Your friend group will change
The friends you make during orientation might not be the people you hug goodbye at the end of your semester -- let alone graduation. Making friends is very different than high school because you aren't encountering the same group of people day in and day out.
While high school was more contained, college is more fluid because you are dealing with a larger student body. Meaning, you will continue meeting new people wherever you go.
As you build new connections, it is normal for some of the old ones to drift away from you in the weeks ahead. Some may fall into a new social group while others will simply fade. It is upsetting when those thought to be forever friends drift away, but it is a very normal part of college.
The exciting thing is you will continually make new connections, so the group of friends you amassed during your first week of college will grow, shift or change entirely as you encounter more people.
Some final thoughts
In all, college is where you really begin to figure out who you are as a person and what you want to do with your life. It's terrifying, exciting, intimidating and amazing at the same time.
You will make mistakes. You will royally screw up. You will wake up some mornings and think going to college was the greatest mistake of your life.
But you will also experience some of the best moments of your life. You will embark on crazy journeys that you'll look back on with a smile. You will learn things about yourself that you never would had you not stepped outside your comfort zone. You will have moments where you realize going to college was the best thing for you.
Enjoy the ride. You'll be fine.
Plus, take advantage of your college's gym. It's free and a lot nicer than the options available to us college grads.