After talking with AU students to see what you were scared of coming to college, we found some pretty interesting concerns that seem to haunt new college students. See what some of the most common ones are, and take away some advice from both the CAS Peer Advisors and the SIS Peer Advisors.
Did you approach a situation differently? Tell us what you did in the comments!
Feeling like your major or your minor is “useless.”
Most of us will spend about two years devoting significant credit hours to our majors. Some people get away with less, but many of us spend even more than that. So if we’re spending two years studying a subject, why are people content to major in something they don’t like? Because it will get me a better job! cries the masses. Two boring and painful years now, lifetime of financial security.
But, hold on. Let’s just assume major equals career. If you don’t like your major now, what makes you think you’ll like it when it’s your job? …crickets Right. Don’t let your parents, your friends, or anyone tell you that a certain major won’t get you a job. No major will reel in job offers. Your major is there so you can study something you love. Sure, some majors better prepare you for certain areas of the job market, but these four undergraduate years won’t determine your life or put you in some caste of employable or unemployable.
Do research, pull internships, write papers because you like what you’re doing – not for your resume.
– Fatima Kamara ’15, CAS
Getting a job after college.
This is a fear that lingers in many of our minds – especially us seniors. But that being said, don’t panic, especially as first-year students! First off, you are lucky to attend a university that is home to one of the top undergraduate career centers in the country. Take advantage – whether through major-specific career advisors, resume workshops, recruiting events, mock interviews, or even more amazing opportunities, you have the chance to learn to stand out through their resources.
Get to know your professors as well. They often have strong professional networks in your desired fields in DC and elsewhere with which they can link you up.
Furthermore, get involved both around campus and in DC. Experience and subsequent networking can get you in touch with future employers and show you what jobs may (or may not) be a good fit for you. But don’t get too carried away – it’s important to keep a balance and focus on your schoolwork while you’re still in school! And a student who focuses on internships over classes often finds the results to be not so desirable – many employers expect you to be a student first.
But as I said, don’t panic! The vast majority of AU students are hired within a few months of graduating – the AU name is a respected name in town, after all.
– Patrick Burnett ’15, SIS
While it’s totally understandable to be scared of not doing as well as you’d like to in your classes, it’s important to understand that college classes are not your high school classes and they’re going to be a little bit harder – which means you might not be getting the same grades that you did in high school. There are going to be some classes that click with you instantly, but there are going to be other classes that you aren’t going to catch on with so easy. Make sure that you’re utilizing all the awesome campus resources – office hours, tutoring sessions, Academic Support and Access Center workshops – to help you understand the material.
Also, understand what “failing” really means. I think a lot of students equate “failing out” with “not being happy with my grade.” But it’s not getting the perfect grade that’s important – it’s all about doing your best and making sure that you’re trying your hardest.
– Grace Cassidy ’16, CAS
Second-guessing your academic decisions.
Most likely, choosing your college is probably an unprecedented decision. Maybe you’ve had to make difficult choices regarding your relationships, or how to best spend your time, but the financial and academic responsibilities that you take on in college make this a truly unique and important decision. Extenuating circumstances aside (emergencies, financial changes, etc), just take some time to assess what you specifically want out of your time in school.
Each school has it’s own culture and opportunities (for example, football games and architecture classes are two things you wont find at AU), and you certainly might find that a different school’s size, location, or focus could be a better fit for you. Ultimately, however, the idea of a “wrong school” is just as chimerical as a “right school.” No school (or major, for that matter) will be your ticket to success and happiness. Try not to compare your experience to your friends’ at other schools, or what your idealized version of what college should be (I was very disappointed to realize I was not, in fact, Rory Gilmore OR Veronica Mars).
If you’re nervous about finding a job after graduation, talk with the Career Center and try to get an internship this summer. If you’re not happy with your group of friends, check out one of our fantastic student organizations. If you’re having trouble balancing university life, don’t hesitate to make an appointment with the Counseling Center for chance to talk it all out. At the end of the day, you could be one of the thousands of college students in the United States who are better served by switching schools. But don’t forget to reach out and make AU work for you!
– Joanna Dressel ’15, CAS
Finding a good balance.
Friendships and roommate issues.
Living with someone you’ve never met before can be a lot to get used to all at once, and it can be difficult to gauge how sharing a space is going to be when you don’t know the other person’s habits, sleep schedule, or cleanliness. The most important thing to keep in mind is to fill out your roommate agreement honestly – don’t say that you’re willing to share your food and clothes with your roommate just to be nice when you’re not actually comfortable with that.
Make sure you’re branching out beyond the social setting of your dorm. Being friends with everyone on your floor can be awesome and it’s great to have people close by to hang out with. But keep in mind that if something gets messy within your friend group, you might want somewhere that you can spend time outside the constraints of your hall, and you might want to have someone to call that isn’t involved.
Join clubs that correlate with your interests, not necessarily just ones that you think will look good on a résumé. You’ll be spending time with people who have common interests and hobbies, and if you’re really into a club because it suits you, you’re more likely to want to dedicate time and energy to it. And you know what looks awesome on a résumé? Something you kept with because you were passionate about it.
Spending money wisely.
Adding grocery shopping and laundry into your budget takes a lot more out of your wallet than you might expect! And without your parents reminding you constantly that you shouldn’t be going to the mall every week, it can be easy to splurge on clothes or shoes that they won’t see right away. Plus, all those trips to Chipotle and getting Chinese delivered to your doorstep is an easy solution when you’re sick of the food in TDR and you’re really missing your mom’s home cooked meals, but those purchases add up – fast. Which is why making a monthly budget and writing down all of your purchases become that much more important.
If you absolutely have to get new clothes, go to inexpensive stores like H&M or Forever 21 to fulfill your craving without completely depleting your bank account. If you really hate the food that your meal plan allows, start making meals on your own. You’ll learn how to cook, you have more control over what you’re eating, and you’ll save a lot more money making your own food rather than ordering out.