Freshman College Culture Shock at Twenty Nine Culture Shock – “A sense of confusion and uncertainty, sometimes with feelings of anxiety that may affect people exposed to an alien culture or environment without adequate preparation. ” Though many college freshman experience culture shock, those feelings are not limited to the students entering higher education directly from high school. At 18 the experience of going to college can be intimidating for a number of reasons. In an article titled “College Transition, College Culture Shock” by Gina Herrmann, a writer for an online resource for higher education called “The College Bound Network”.
Herrmann explains why it can be so challenging at this age. A young adult entering a strange place and on their own for the first time has a lot to deal with. Added to it is the strain of academic and social expectations. It’s no wonder this proves to be too much for some to cope with. While many of those stresses are relevant to my life, like the desire to be accepted by my peers and the need to excel academically; I can also see many differences, each of them having there own additional challenges.
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For the most part, I am able to categorize these challenges and each of these categories carried with it, for me, a tremendous amount of pressure to get things right. “After all” I told myself “this isn’t high school anymore. ” To me this meant it was my choice to be here and my responsibility to succeed. This meant understanding and dealing with each problem as it surfaced. I have lumped them into these three categories: academic goals, social acceptance, and the logistics of getting it all done. Brown 2 The Logistics: Once it became time to finally start making it all happen, I encountered several more obstacles.
First I had to find out how to get started. I had never applied for college before and my fiancee’s busy trying to get his own business started. In addition I had no frame of reference from my parents since they never attended college or offered me the support to go. Second was picking my classes and a field of study (degree path). I had to meet with an academic adviser to speak about what type of degree I would be going for. At that point I had to make an appointment to take three placement tests: Math, Reading and Writing. This was one of the more terrifying things I have ever done.
I felt that life had not prepared me for this task. Since I had not yet brushed up on any of the core subjects of my (now decade old) high school education, I felt blind when I sat down to do my testing. The stress was unbearable and I felt the cold grasp of failure creeping up on me. Just taking those placement tests caused a large amount of anxiety. I felt like I had failed them horribly and was ashamed to be so behind. How will I ever catch up? After that I thought about time. How will I ever find time to do my homework and study?
With my daughter needing constant attention, my endless list of household responsibilities, and trying to keep a relationship together, I can barley keep up with them now. With school work added to my list it felt impossible to get everything done. When will I get time to rest? I have never had to schedule out a full twelve hour day before, let alone schedule in all of my responsibilities with the deadlines of assignments and tests. Then there’s the finances. I had to find a way and take the steps to cover the costs with out the help of my parents. Applying to get financial aid and student loans were not only Brown 3 tressful but time consuming. Then when they finally arrive I have to drive to a different campus to pick up the funds. Paying for child care, transportation, tuition, parking, books and other miscellaneous school supplies costs so much more than I could have ever imagined. Just the thought of it all inflicts the need to sit down. How will we be able to provide all of this extra income needed to attend college? Will the financial aid be enough? Or will our family struggle to pay the bills as well as deal with of all of the other stress and time consumed with going back to school?
That’s not to say I didn’t count my blessings. I was lucky enough to live just a short distance away from the facility of my choice, which makes transportation to and from easy. Unfortunately for me the location of the campus in relation to the location of the child care provider is not so good, which makes the commute much further. That means getting up earlier in the morning than I ever have so I can get my daughter up, dressed and fed, then myself ready to go. Which gets me to continue to question “how much longer can I last. Academic Goals: Because of my poor grades in high school, one of my biggest concerns as a freshman has been academic excellence. I have a strong desire to be competitive but the fear of being wrong or failing holds me back. I also feel pressure to get good grades from my family and friends. To be a good example for my daughter, and make my fiancee proud by getting excellent grades in every course I take. As well as proving to my friends that it can be done. To the few friends that have not yet attended an institute for higher education, I feel the urge be an inspiration for them to finally attend.
To prove that if I can do it anyone can. But the doubt of that just Brown 4 creeps up on me slowly as my second term begins. In an interview by Alicia C. Shepard, James Mooney speaks briefly about the difficulties some students have dealing with a tougher grading system. Mooney says, “They come to college and the grading system is much more rigorous. That’s one of the most difficult things to convey to the students. If you’re getting a B, you’re doing well in this course. ” Then I wonder, with grades like mine in high school, how will I stand up to such a “rigorous” system?
Social Acceptance: I would love to make friends since I don’t have as many after my life changed traumatically from bar-tending to being an at home mom. How will I ever fit in? As crazy as it sounds, I feel like I have forgotten how to socialize all together. Being in a room full of strangers with all the doubts swimming around in your head, it can make anyone feel squeamish and insecure. I fear I am getting too old and that gives me the sense, true or not, that I have absolutely nothing in common with others in my classes. I get an overwhelming feeling that I am alone in this situation making it hard to bond or relate.
This causes me to believe that I am the only mother going back to school at my age. Of course we all know this is not true, but that does not subdue the feeling of alienation. And as I sit there watching others connect on a level that slips my grasp I wonder, will there be any classmates that I will be able to connect with? With all of these questions appearing, freshman college culture shock began to set in … I am still looking for the way out. I can only hope there is wisdom in Hermann’s words … “College is a giant leap in the path of life. Take baby steps and get comfortable in your new shoes.
Before you know it, you’ll be up and running! ” Brown 5 Works Cited Herrmann, Gina. “College Transition, College Culture Shock” – CollegeBound. net. College Bound,1996. Web. <http://www. collegebound. net/content/article/college-culture-shock/2294/>. Shepard, Alicia C. “A’s for Everyone. ” The Contemporary Reader. By Gary Goshgarian. 10th ed. New York: Pearson Longman, 2008. 417-23. Print. American Psychological Association (APA):culture shock. (n. d. ) . Dictionary. comUnabridged. From Dictionary. com web. <http://dictionary. reference. com/browse/culture shock>