Congratulations! You’ve survived your first two weeks of classes as a college student! Now you’ve had your syllabus days, met your professors, hopefully connected with some classmates, and mastered the 10-minutes-between-classes sprint across campus. The homework is beginning to pick up the pace, and you might already feel a little bit overwhelmed. Add that to any existing homesickness, a lack of sleep, and new surroundings, and it might feel like you can’t breathe sometimes.
THAT IS PERFECTLY NORMAL AND THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH YOU.
Whatever you might be feeling is perfectly valid, and I promise you all that every other freshman on this campus is dealing with something similar. I know I did. As a freshman, I had a rocky transition to say the least. I attended community college in high school and was fairly confident that I was prepared for UCO right from the start. I was wrong. I was so excited when I arrived here, only to quickly realize that the bed was harder than I was used to, I missed my parents and my dog, and I was definitely not prepared for the loneliness that came from my introverted tendencies. Thankfully, I loved my professors and I got to the point where I was happier in my classes than I was in my spare time. I attended Student Academy of Forensic Science meetings which were bright spots in my month, but other than that I shied away from community involvement. Eventually, things got so bad that I became physically ill. I had, over the course of the semester been telling my parents, somewhat sarcastically, that I was going to drop out, but then it got so bad that I said it and meant it. I told them that I was done and wanted to go home. I was told that I needed to sleep on my decision, and that if I was still sure in the morning then they would come and move me home, no argument. I don’t know what changed overnight, but I woke up the next morning — still sick and unhappy — but sure that I loved forensic science enough to stay here. Looking back now, I’m so grateful that my parents didn’t try to push me to stay, but they did ask me to take a minute to think. I’ve had plenty of bad days here since then, but I can honestly say that I have never once regretted my decision to stay. I love my professors, I love my friends, and I love Digital Forensics and MIS. I can’t imagine what I would be doing if I had dropped out two years ago.
Please know that me sharing this story with you is not to make you pity me or dread your semester; I don’t want either of those things! I simply shared my story so that you can know that it will get SO much better in the next few weeks, months, semesters, and years. It takes time to adjust to a new home away from home, and that’s to be expected. No one expects you to have it all perfectly together right off the bat. An adjustment period is inevitable, and it varies for each person. Please don’t compare yourself to anyone else; your college journey is uniquely yours and that’s exactly how it’s supposed to be.
There was a study done which states that the first six weeks of college may be important in deciding a student’s ability to persist and graduate. This study found that of the nearly 40% of college students who do not complete their college education, more than half leave in the first six weeks! This is why myself, Sade, Cait, and UCO as a whole cannot stress enough the importance of getting involved and making meaningful connections! Introduce yourself to your professor so they know your name, join a student organization (or five!), invite a classmate to eat with you at Buddy’s or the Nigh, or volunteer for an event on campus (this is my personal favorite way to get involved and free t-shirts are just a perk :D)! There are so many ways to get involved.
Every freshman’s college transition is different and that’s to be expected. Just be sure to allow yourself the time and energy you need to make the necessary adjustments and the grace you need for the inevitable mistakes along the way. They’re a part of life, however unpleasant, and you’ll learn from them. If you ever need advice, help, or just someone to talk to, please know that Sade and I are here to help however we can. Also, if you would like to speak to someone confidentially, the Center for Counseling and Well-Being is an invaluable resource. There is no shame in asking for help, and sometimes it can make all the difference!
As you all become accustomed to life here at UCO, I’m excited to see you continue to succeed here! Keep pushing and putting in the hard work even when it feels like it’s not worth it. I can testify to the fact it is worth it, and before long, you’ll be in my shoes wondering how it’s already been two whole years. Be proud of yourselves for getting to where you are now, and continue setting achievable goals and rewards to celebrate your accomplishments as you continue your college career. Then, four years from now, after graduation, you can binge watch Netflix for an entire summer as your reward. (Kidding; we all already binge watch Netflix — why wait?) In all seriousness, if you continue to work hard and pursue a career you’re passionate about, you will have few regrets about your years spent here at UCO, and you’ll go on to do incredible things.
Keep up the great work and Roll Chos!
“Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald
CAMPUS RESOURCE OF THE WEEK:
UCO Center for Counseling & Well-Being Nigh University Center, Suite 402 (4th floor) Walk-In Hours: 9am-1pm Monday-Thursday Normal Business Hours: 8am-5pm Monday-Friday Phone: (405) 974.2215