First there were the excited neighbor children. The girls comparing their first day back to school outfits and the boys showing off their new skateboard tricks. Then there were the groups of middle schoolers walking to school, talking and gesturing and calling out to friends as they approached the school. The final groups were the high school students. They’re diverse in their dress, yet somehow the same. They’re diverse in attitude, yet all showing a certain sense of apprehension. Even when you’re returning to the familiar it’s different. Friends may have changed over the summer. New teachers are waiting your arrival. Even you have changed!
Suddenly I thought of YOU. Those of you who have managed your middle school and high school years and spent the better part of last year planning for your next four years. Those of you who agonized over college acceptances and choices, finally mailing in your letter telling your chosen to get ready, here you come. Now, like the bride and groom at the alter you stand poised to honor your commitment.
Are you feeling nervous? Are you “second guessing” yourself? Do you feel less sure of your major than you did last spring or even last night? Did you wake up in the middle of the night declaring, “What am I doing?” Everyone of these thoughts, whether whispering in your head or shouting out at you are very normal. Very few of us ever make BIG decisions in life without some trepidation. It’s how we proceed that’s important. Facing our fears head on most often exposes them for their lack of substance. After all, you didn’t step on to this academic stage, just as you wouldn’t appear in a play or begin a film, without lots of thought and preparation. You are ready for this new experience and in a few weeks, with just a little more preparation, you will be well into the swing of things in your new environment and the butterflies will be long forgotten.
Where to start? Let’s start with the obvious. Getting organized and getting packed. The organizing part is critical because that keeps you from over shopping and over packing. We joke in our office about the fact that no one reads anymore and yet we turn out reams of written material. Usually everyone waits until two or three days before they leave for our summer workshops and then discover they need to prepare monologues or purchase needed dance shoes or they need a new flash drive or mini dvd. Your colleges are also sending you reams of material. Read it and read it early. Read it more than once. It contains very helpful information. Not just about orientation and classes but about campus organizations and your dorm living accommodations. You may even be given your roommates’ contact information as a helpful way to plan what you’ll bring.
Don’t over pack. Your dorm room probably won’t be much bigger than 12′x19′ and only half of it (or less) will be yours. I’m always a little amused when parents complain about their students accommodations in our summer programs which is generally two students to a room that is often occupied by 3 or 4 students during the regular academic year. Not to mention the visitors that cram in to hang out. If you can’t communicate with your roommate(s) ahead, then perhaps it would be better to buy the new big items when you get there or to have the ones you already own shipped later.
So, with some of these thoughts in mind, start to make lists, shop, plan last activities with your family and friends, and enjoy the last days of summer…and get packing for your new adventure!