Chapter 1: Finding Your Support System
After high school graduation, most of us are forced to face the fact that we are moving into the next chapter of our lives, meaning we must bid our temporary and final farewells to the many friends who have supported us throughout our elementary, middle, and high school education. You may or may not have realized it, but the support you’ve received from the friends you’ve made over the course of your education career so far has been vital to your success, as your friends have likely motivated you, worked hard with you, laughed with you, and even cried with you, making you aware that you are not alone on this journey. When course loads became heavy, and exam season was right around the corner, sometimes support from our friends and loved ones provided us with the stability necessary to maintain mental well-being while under pressure.
I know what you must be thinking, how could someone possibly find the time to recreate an entirely new friend group and support system in the short few months leading up to move-in this Fall? Well, the truth is, nothing happens overnight, and it’s going to take some time, effort, and patience before you find your crowd – and that’s okay! If you’re eager to get to know some of the other incoming members of your class prior to the first day of school, it’s never too early to start reaching out and making new friends. A great place to start is by simply joining virtual events planned specifically for incoming freshmen that may be hosted by your school, or by joining online groups that have been already created by your school to encourage your incoming class to introduce yourselves and your interests to each other. Though it may sound far-fetched, you can meet a number of incoming students before you set foot on campus simply by joining online groups over the summer, such as Facebook Community Groups, even as early as June or July. Additionally, I advise you to do a bit of research on the variety of student clubs, organizations, sports teams, and first-year interest groups that your college has to offer, as becoming involved in on-campus activities is a great way to stay engaged in your campus community and meet new people. By taking these initial steps leading up to your arrival on campus, you will have a great idea of the types of groups you’d like to become involved in throughout the Fall, and mark your calendar for those upcoming first day interest meetings.
While you’re on this journey into the next chapter of your life, it’s important to keep in mind that everybody experiences college differently, and that some students settle in quicker than others – and this is totally normal. During my transition from a high schooler into a college student-athlete, I challenged myself to become a more outgoing, extroverted, and open-minded individual in my social and academic spheres. This meant taking small steps such as reaching out to my assigned roommates and introducing myself before move-in day. Sometimes, you’ll learn that your roommates live close by, and you may want to consider meeting up for coffee or a lunch date over the summer – the possibilities are endless. However, though you may be living with your roommates, remember this does not mean you must all be best friends, but it’s important to build a healthy relationship with the people you will be encountering on a day-to-day basis.
As an incoming college freshman, it’s almost inevitable that at some point over the next few months you may begin to feel some sort of anxiety about leaving your home and expanding your social circle. As a recent graduate, I can assure you that meeting new people in college is one of the greatest experiences imaginable, and friendships will form naturally over time. While forming these friendships, try to surround yourself with individuals who are likely to have a positive impact on both your academic experience and social life, and you will be bound to achieve success. Throughout my time as an undergraduate, I was fortunate enough to fall into a unique social group of fellow student athletes and scholars who valued their educational journey, and each of us motivated each other to be the best we could possibly be while uplifting one another during the difficult times. The importance of your mental health and emotional stability while living as a successful college student cannot be overstated, and a vital first step towards taking care of your health and well-being is surrounding yourself with supportive, motivated, and hard-working friends.