Transitioning to College

By Maryam Masood March 7, 2019

Even after four years at boarding school, the thought of moving into another dorm was nerve-racking. What was my roommate going to be like? (I roomed blind as part of a learning community requirement.) Would I get hungry? And would I survive the communal bathrooms?

After living in East Quad for six months, I’ve realized a few things that were hard to swallow at first but essential for personal growth.

Welcome Week might not be the best week of your life

Although everyone adapts differently, you might feel homesick or out of place in the beginning. This is totally natural. It might seem like everyone else is having the time of their life, but all incoming freshmen are adjusting, even if they’re not vocal about it. This adjustment period is necessary and more importantly, temporary. If you retain a big-picture mindset and accept it might take time to get settled, you can and will push through the first stretch.

You might not make your best friends immediately

In college you don’t see the same people every day for eight hours, and college lacks the forced interactions that high school provides. In the first few weeks, you might acquire many acquaintances, but not feel as though you have a close-knit group. This is normal: especially since everyone has a different schedule, it takes consistent effort to develop true friendships. Don’t always expect others to offer to hang out—be proactive and make plans with people!

You might become stressed

This one may seem obvious, but in college you must take on adult responsibilities, and likely more challenging academics, all while balancing your social life and extracurriculars. You can never completely eliminate stress, (and sometimes a little stress can be good for you) but you can reduce it. For instance, most instructors post the course syllabus at the beginning of the semester, which makes it easy to work ahead. Moreover, making plans with friends in advance will give you something to look forward to during busy weeks. If you ever feel overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to ask for help through U-M’s various resources, like CAPS, a confidential service for mental health.

Key takeaways

After a couple of months of being at U-M, I’ve realized my assumptions about college and dorm life were just that—conjectures I made up in my head in the summer leading up to my first semester. The bathrooms aren’t that bad. In fact, they’re oddly a great place for quick chats with your hallmates (just avoid conversation in the a.m.) and I’ve never had a problem getting an open shower. Additionally, most dining halls are open from 7 a.m. until 8 or 9 p.m., so it’s pretty much an around-the-clock buffet. For those who enjoy snacking or live off-campus, the Maize & Blue Cupboard distributes free groceries for students on a monthly basis.

After getting to know my roommate and hallmates, I realized they were grappling with the same concerns and lifestyle changes with which I was dealing. I was not experiencing this transition on my own, but with an entire community.

If I could pass along one piece of advice to myself six months ago and to all incoming freshmen, it is to not feel discouraged by the transition period. The first few days or weeks of college might feel strange and challenging, but in the long run, you’ll view them as extremely rewarding: you have the opportunity to meet new people, explore a variety of interests, and truly forge a unique experience as a Michigan Wolverine.



Maryam Masood

Maryam Masood is a junior in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts majoring in Organizational Studies with a minor in Spanish. During the year, she keeps busy as a student employee for CommonGround and Treasurer for the Michigan Refugee Assistance Program. Outside of class and work, she enjoys traveling, procrastinating at the CCRB, and is most likely watching Kim's Convenience or Criminal Minds on Netflix.