When College Doesn’t Meet Your Expectations

It is the summer before freshman year and you feel unstoppable! (Insert smug smiling emoji face here.)  You just graduated from high school, you are finally leaving the “nest”, and you have so many things to look forward to like “campus cuties”.  Unfortunately, one of the things that almost every incoming freshman class brings into the dorms, besides shower shoes and a mini-fridge, are is expectations.  Having expectations can lead to immense satisfaction when we get what we want, confusion when things do not go as planned, or frustration when we do not get our way.  When things do not go our way, do we freak out?  Blow off going to lecture and call it a mental health day?  Go on a Hulu/Netflix binge and survive off of Crunchy Cookie Butter in our beds for a week? Yes!  That’s exactly what we do.  And then we have to adjust our habits.  Fortunately, there are many ways to cope when life hands you lemons (and you have a meal plan so no need to make lemonade).    Here are some examples of life’s lemons and how you might cope with them:

#1. Your roommate might be demon spawn.

Your roommate is not the anti-Christ.  You are just different people who might not be compatible living together.  The best thing to do is to talk to your roommate about what annoys you or makes you feel uncomfortable, come to a common understanding, and move on.  Some roommates create informal contracts or lay down rules and set boundaries for how to be a respectful roommate to one another.  If all else fails or things turn hostile, make sure to seek assistance from housing authorities such as a Resident Advisor, before packing up for new living quarters!  Never live somewhere you do not want to be!  College is too short to waste a year being miserable in your new home.

#2. You just got a D+ on your Midterm (worth 50% of your grade by the way).

You are not dumb!  You can still do well in the class.  First things first, go speak to your T.A., the professor, or someone at the academic advising center on campus.  They can guide you in the process of bringing up your grades.  Go to all three!  Their advice is free and invaluable in your pursuit of being successful in college.  You also have to be willing to change.  Office hours are now your new hangout spot; speaking to or emailing your T.A. or professor questions about material you did not understand is now mandatory; and your study group members are your new B.F.F.’s.  No need to stress out, but students often expect that they will instinctively improve their grades by studying more and partying less.  They then end up repeating the same bad habits that got them a D+ in the first place.  Nothing in our lives changes, until we make the change!

#3. There’s too much month at the end of your money!

(Picks up phone: “Mom…Dad…”)  So… that budget you set for Black Friday shopping was a complete and utter fail.  You cringe at the thought of checking your bank account balance because you know it that it is lower than the temperature outside.  Oh, and you still have to figure out how you are going to eat for the next three weeks before winter break.  Many students struggle with managing their finances on their own for the first time and this can lead to overspending and being “broke”.  First start with returning the items you can bear to part with before you ask for help from parents, relatives, or the financial aid office.  Do not go hungry because you refuse to return that charcoal Gap pea coat.  After you get your money in order, make sure you set a weekly budget and reserve your debt/credit card for major transactions.  Withdraw the amount of cash that you are allowing yourself to spend each week and stick to it!  If you need something that exceeds your budget, such as money to pay for an unexpected doctor’s visit, make sure you deduct the unexpected amount from next week’s budget.  Suggestion:  try to pick up some babysitting or dog walking gigs from a friend, mentor, or a professor.

Life does not always go as planned and in the event that it does not, we have to get creative!  The moral of the story:  “Perseverance:  The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it,” Moliere.  Keep at it and you will succeed.

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