Battling the many challenges of adapting to college life
How first-years should cope with pressure to fit into Wellesley mold
Published: Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 26, 2012 18:09
The first year of college is commonly referred to as a “transition period.” First-years eventually reach a point in which the entire class adjusts to the College bubble. All the first-years will find themselves taking the “right” combination of classes, and participating in the “right” number of orgs. They will seem to have adjusted to independence—doing laundry and managing meals, not secretly hoping that they can avoid laundry and food runs until family weekend. They appear to be settled into friend groups, and to have magically found some guy friends. They will appear to fit perfectly into the “Wellesley Woman” mould—the ultimate balanced, multi-tasking student.
It’s just the fourth week though, and first-years have yet to morph into the mold. They are still figuring out the transition process. This is because it seems as though their world might collapse unless they have their lives planned out. Therefore, they are still open about finding the right orgs or figuring out their academic focus.
They are super busy, yet their only trouble seems to be figuring out which major should be their unofficial third. And the majority of those majors are ones that are traditionally “practical,” like econ or the sciences.
A couple more weeks, maybe a couple more months, will pass and first years will solve their problems in adjusting. Then they will start sounding like upperclasswomen when the conversation will shift from the subject of intimidation in class to the balance of readings with a part-time job, frat parties and CVS runs.
In reality, though a lot of students appear to be put together, in actuality they are internalizing their anxiety and doubt. A lot of students do things because they feel they should in order to fit in. They’re trying to be the Wendy Wellesley that they feel they’re supposed to be.
It is hard for students to feel comfortable about where they are in their own lives when everyone else sounds like they’ve got it together. In reality, the majority of Wellesley students constantly compare themselves to their peers and consequentially feel inadequate. First-years—and all students—need to know that they are not alone. So many students may not show it, but they also struggle.
Wellesley promotes the slogan, “Women who will make a difference in the world.” At first it seems like a lot of pressure. Yes, the world is a huge place, but that’s the point. All Wellesley students, first years in particular, need to remember that no matter what they do, they will make a difference in the world. They don’t necessarily need to go into medicine or law to make changes. If theater or medieval studies makes them happy, they have still made a difference in the world. Some may argue that because medieval studies or theater do not bring you closer to a stable income after college, they aren’t living up to the much-lauded Wellesley standard. However, it is not just the subject matter that is important but the skills acquired. Any Wellesley education will develop skills that will be useful in the real world, so it is best that a student’s education makes them happy.
Though Wellesley is a stressful place, constantly ruminating and planning for the future does not make it any less stressful.
It is okay to take time to transition and feel comfortable. The transition can take anywhere from a semester to a few years. The best thing to do is work on being happy. Wellesley has many resources to ease stress and make the process of adapting to life on campus easier. Residential Life programs, orgs and campus events are a great way to make friends. Cultural and religious groups offer support systems. The Stone Center offers free counseling. People at the PLTC can help with problems of time management or organization. Public speaking tutors help with class presentations and speaking in class. The PLTC also offers writing tutors and tutors for nearly any subject. Professors have office hours for a reason. Even the food situation can be helped—Roche Brothers delivers!