Transitioning to college

Tegan Johnson

A new stage in life


My college journey started in the summer of 2017.

That’s when I began to seriously look at colleges. I had a picture in my mind of what I was looking for; I even made a spreadsheet out of the 20-some schools I was looking at.

I took into account financial aid packages, the programs a school offered, study abroad options, dorms, graduation rates, proximity to home, locations in large cities or small towns, emphasis on faith and student-to-faculty ratio, amongst other criteria.

By the time my senior year of high school started, I felt like I was already in college. I went through a transition where everything I did became about spicing up my college applications and looking good on scholarship applications.

I was already making lists of what I was going to take to college with me during that Christmas break, before I was even accepted into a college.

Every time I did something with my friends, we would talk about how we were going to stay in touch after we all leave for different states and different countries. I stopped enjoying my last year of high school and only focused on the four years after.

I was ready for a tearful goodbye to my parents, an awkward meeting with my roommate and a pop quiz on the first day of class. I was waiting to suffer through disgusting food at the dining hall, hundreds of pages of reading and homesickness during my first night in a dorm.

I had already gone through the agony of settling in to my new life as a college student before I even graduated high school.

I think that’s why my transition to college wasn’t as difficult as I believed it would be.

I had prepared for college so intensely, finally moving in and starting classes just seemed like the next logical step.

Nothing here at SPU is as terrible as I expected, not even close. It was awkward at times, yes, and there were many instances where I wished I could just sink through the floor, but it felt like any other new experience in life.

The biggest change for me has been learning to be alone. I’ve always been an introvert, so I am comfortable being alone, but being by myself in a public place is a different story.

Eating breakfast early at Gwinn, going to campus events, speedwalking to my classes and riding the bus are all solitary activities I’ve learned to be at peace with.

It’s not that I never went anywhere alone back home — maybe it just feels so weird because SPU is an unfamiliar setting. I’m still learning my way around campus, and that’s just one of the many adjustments affecting my life right now.

I still consider starting college as a significant life event, even if not every factor in my life has changed from my time in high school. There are some big changes mixed in with small ones, but I’ve overall had a smooth transition.

While I am still focusing on my future, I’m paying more attention to where I am in the present. I’m exploring every new opportunity; I’m less fixated on what will look good on my resume and more on what will make me happy right now.

Living in the moment is how I will spend my time. I shouldn’t always be worried about where I will be next year, or the next, or another stage of life. I will learn about what I’m doing today.

I’m discovering new things everyday, things about this school, my friends, the city, my classes and God, and I love that.

I’m getting used to being alone and finding out who I am.

I’m slowly finding my way around campus. I’m finding clubs to join and get involved with my community. I’m making new friends and trying to stay in touch with old ones.

Above all, I’m finding that starting college has been less of a transition and more of a beginning: a beginning to an adventure.

We should all see college this way, not as an end to high school or one last change in scenery until we reach adulthood, but as a time to embrace change.

The novelty hasn’t quite worn off yet, and I still get a little giddy when I walk into my dorm room. I don’t know how long that will last, and you may laugh at me for being naïve, but I’ve enjoyed my experience so far, and I hope it stays this way.

I also hope that all of SPU’s students can enjoy their time here and seek out what they enjoy. Yes, our future is important, that’s why we’re in college, but so is our present happiness. We need to embrace the upcoming transitions and discover what we love.