How to Survive the First Week of College

735 words | 3 page(s)

Given the importance of attending college, it is natural that new students would want to begin the process in the most advantageous way possible. Taking on the initial challenges well, it is usually believed, will render the entire experience easier, and better guarantee success. All of this is true, if only because the confidence that comes from starting off well will vastly work in the student’s favor in the months sand years to come. To survive the first week is to enable ongoing success. It is then all the more ironic that the best way of surviving that first college week is through fully admitting that there is no chance whatsoever to do well, or perhaps even survive. Surrendering to self-destruction, as will be seen, is the only truly dependable means of making it through college.

To begin with, and in terms of actual survival chances, there is the crucial factor of displacement. If it seems that this nihilistic viewpoint cannot possibly help in surviving the beginning of the college experience, this is only because not enough thought has been given to the reality facing the student. The new college student is, in every sense, leaving one world and entering into another. The familiar environments of home, high school, and circles of friends are not less helpful; they are gone. Consequently, so too is the student’s familiar and trusted sense of self. Once all the defining elements are missing, there is no identity at all first entering those college halls, signing up for courses, and meeting new people. The student is non-existent as a person, so to hope to survive is misguided, if not outright ridiculous. It may be argued that this is, in fact, an opportunity to develop in ways never before possible and to rely on a foundation of character forged in early years, but that view is highly optimistic.

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Secondly, there are the frightening challenges of the actual work and study. This is education at a higher level, of course, so there can be no actual readiness for it. How, it may be asked, can anyone learn when the material is both new and elevated from anything learned before? It may be said that survival here is merely a matter of accepting the challenge of making a greater effort, and employing skills and knowledge already attained to ease the process. This too, however, is a naïve perspective. It demands that the student commit in a way never before asked of them, so the chances of survival are greatly reduced. A hopeful student, one who does not fully accept that there will be no survival, may believe that honestly asking for help from professors and other students, even in guiding the first course selections, will make this possible. This, however, would require that others in the college would actually be willing to facilitate education, and there is no reason to expect that to be the environment.

Lastly, the sense of isolation of the student, thrust into the new setting and demands, is likely to destroy any possible chance for survival because they will forget the reasons they chose to attend in the first place. Given the pressures of the first week, it is inevitable that the reasoning behind the choice will evaporate to nothingness, and the student will confront the fact that a disastrous decision was made. There are, of course, some students who will embrace the difficulties because they know that, in the end, they will have the degree and the education of which they dreamed. Most, however, will be so lost that only the hard reality of an enormous mistake is left to them. Surviving, then, can only occur when there is no hope of doing anything more than surviving.

When the entire reality of the first week of college is truly seen, one fact becomes obvious: to expect to survive the first week in college is an absurd ambition. Too much is new and nearly impossible to address, and believing that skill and effort will make a difference is delusional. Consequently, the only real means of survival is through understanding that survival is the absolute best that can be hope for, and that success is out of reach. Once this reality is accepted, the student, having nothing whatsoever to lose, can only move forward. Ultimately, giving into self-destruction is the only truly dependable means of making it through college.

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