This past week I had my first overnight visit at a college and it was a shock to my system. Everyone always talks about what they think college is going to be like: staying up late, going to parties, having freedom to do whatever they want. And all of that is true. But as far as the whole freedom part, it is a lot more frightening than you would ever believe.
I was only away from home for three days and I was already overwhelmed by how much freedom college students have. After spending 18 years living at home with everything planned out for you, you now realize that you are completely on your own.
There is no one around to tell you what to eat, when to go to bed and when to wake up, what to spend your money on, when to study, or what to do in general. You are completely on your own and you just can’t help but ask yourself, what now?
Take the food in the dorms, for example. There is all this free, greasy, fattening food all around you and nothing is stopping you from eating all of it. Your mom isn’t there to passive aggressively suggest that you should maybe eat a salad for dinner this time instead of another pizza.
And for some people, this is a hard situation to adjust to. According to a 2008 study in the journal Eating Behaviors, college students who gain weight during their first year actually gain an average of 7 pounds.
There is also no one telling you to go outside or go to the gym instead of sitting in your room watching Netflix all day. There is no one to even tell you to go to class or study every day. It is all up to you. Have I scared you yet? Good. Then my rant is working.
After just three days at that college, I realized that I was not going to be like that girl who eats cheese fries and root beer floats for dinner. I’m not going to be that girl who doesn’t clean her room even though it smells like a combo of old Jamba Juice and onion dip. And I’m not going to be that girl who decides to write her paper at the last minute and locks herself in her room for hours until she finishes it. And if you follow my advice, you won’t have to be either.
First thing you have to do is make sure to keep everything balanced. Balance out the ratio of cake to salad, studying to socializing, and spending money to saving money. Also, set goals for yourself. Tell yourself that you’re going to get all As and Bs, that you’re going to wake up at a certain time every morning, and that you’re going to go to the gym however many days a week.
Just have a plan. College is said to be the best time of your life, but if you’re not careful, the amount of freedom will sneak up on you, and before you know it, you really are that girl who eats root beer for dinner and has a room that smells like onion dip.