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I’m Scared To Go to College (Preparation and Expectations)

Going to college can be both fun and a scary experience for most people. The stress of picking the right career path and learning something new is often overwhelming when combined with the pressure of doing their best, fitting in, and being comfortable. These issues are why most first-year college students are usually nervous about starting college! 

If you’re scared about starting college, there’s a lot you can do to help yourself, including counseling, budgeting, joining clubs, and more. Being scared about going to college is perfectly normal, but preparing yourself for the upcoming transition can do a lot to help alleviate your fears. 

Going to college is the beginning of a new journey towards new and exciting adventures that won’t come without fear. In this article, I’ll explain a few topics that relate to this question directly, including:

  • Is it normal to be scared to go to college?
  • What if you are scared to go to college out of state
  • Common fears about college.
  • What to expect in college (course schedules, social life, etc.)
  • How to prepare if you’re scared of a college workload.
  • How to get over the fear of going to college.
Tips for dealing with fear of college.

Is It Normal To Be Scared To Go to College?

In general, college classes aren’t the same as high school classes; they’re a bit harder. Learning is more fast-paced, topics are more complicated, and there are much higher expectations for self-teaching; but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s hard to do well in college. 

The anxiety many young people experience before going to college is normal and nothing to be ashamed of. The fear stems from moving from a place of security into the unknown world of college. The fear is heightened by the pressure from everyone else’s high expectations. 

When experiencing these types of emotions, most students tend to hold back from sharing their thoughts. However, it’s highly advisable to open up to family, friends, or anyone who helps create feelings of calm and comfort. 

Here are some of the common concerns first-year college students have before getting started in college:

  • What the college experience will be like
  • Whether or not they’ll make friends
  • Whether they’ll be able to maintain good grades
  • If they’ll be able to settle into a new routine away from home

Worrying about these things is normal, but it doesn’t do any good to worry. It’s important to remember there are a lot of other students feeling the same way and that you aren’t alone.

Fear of the unknown is common in different levels of life, not only for teenagers but also adults. It becomes incredibly intimidating for teenagers because they haven’t been exposed to the ups and downs that come with life. 

The fear of going to college is often due to the thought of living without a “safety net” provided by the parental home. However, after arriving at college, it’s easy to realize there’s a lot of good things that usually outweigh the bad.

What if You Are Scared To Go to College Out of State?

Being scared to go to college out of state is normal because almost everything will be new to you. However, just because a college is out of state does not mean it cannot be a fantastic life experience.

Here are a few ways to handle the fear of going to college out of state:

  • Visit the college ahead of time.
  • Connect with fellow first-years before fall semester.
  • Reach out to current students to see what college is like.
  • Find social groups that fit your interests.
  • Keep a positive mindset.
  • Stay away from negative environments and people.
  • Avoid coffee and alcohol.
  • Prepare for the weather; pack accordingly.
  • Create a financial plan.
  • Plan your time responsibly.
  • Make time for self-care and entertainment.

These tips will help you reduce the stress and fear of going to college out of state. However, if you still are struggling with your anxiety, reach out to a guidance counselor. They are used to dealing with these issues and will likely have a wide variety of helpful solutions.

Common Fears Students Have About Going to College

Higher education involves a lot of different factors, not just books and grades. It helps mold you into a better person and prepares you for what to expect from the future. The primary benefit is not just educational, but social too.

You start learning how to manage your time better, budget, make new friends, etc. While in college, you’ll also learn how you can overcome some of your biggest fears. Students experience a lot of different worries when joining college; below are some of the most common ones:

Fear of Change

Change is inevitable, and going to college is change. Everything will be new, including:

  • Taking new courses
  • Meeting new people
  • Living in a new environment
  • Having new professors
  • Experiencing new events

Some people can welcome change readily, but it’s not the same for others. If you’re experiencing a tough time, it’s important to remember other first-year students are also going through the same thing as you.

No incoming freshman has any idea what the years in college will bring forth. That’s why most students start freaking out a lot; it’s a big change and an unfamiliar experience. However, exercise or other physical activities can help a lot when feeling stressed.

See Is College Better Than High School? (A Student’s Insight)

Fear of Crimes

Nobody loves crime, but crimes do happen, and students are afraid of them. There are several safety measures you can take to ensure your safety in college. Ensure doors are always locked. Locking away valuables in secure areas is a good habit to start in – or even before – college.

When attending parties, never get drinks from anyone except the bartender. Most importantly, don’t drink something left unattended for any period of time. Having a sober friend during any party or social gathering will improve safety too. Lastly, adding the campus security number to your phone book is helpful in case of any emergencies.

Fear of Running Out of Money

Most first-year college students have little to no experience with managing money or a budget, so they often fear running out of money at some point. The earlier young people begin learning how to manage money, the better. Books and articles about financial planning can help manage finances, and there are helpful apps for more tech-savvy students.

Fear of Isolation

In college, there are a lot of different characters and personalities. Some people are from various states or countries which all have different cultures. Those differences may make someone afraid of their ability to make friends, and others fear being bullied. 

Nonetheless, it’s so hard to be isolated in college unless an individual prefers that. It would help to remember that most of the people who’ve chosen the same study program as you may likely share a lot of similar interests. 

If they don’t, there are several clubs and social groups with many people who participate. Joining them is a great way to make new friends. 

See How To Make Friends in College: 15 Helpful Approaches

Fear of Failure

Failure is the greatest fear anyone going to college has. The unfortunate part is that not many people can overcome it even after college. The fear hinders people from making important life decisions, but you can overcome this fear if you understand yourself better.

Then it’s time to work on those feelings. Figure out where these fears come from and why there’s such an intense fear of failure. Eventually, this journey will help create the realization that failure isn’t as scary as one might think.

Just remember that struggling in a course is not the same as failing college itself. Sometimes you just need to re-evaluate your coursework.

See Should I Drop or Fail? (A College Student’s Perspective)

Fear of Expulsion

The need to do well creates the fear of being expelled for some students, mainly because sometimes they don’t think they’re smart enough. It’s easy to overcome this fear by using proper planning and time management. It’s also essential to identify and get rid of any bad habits.

Fear of Public Speaking

Presentations involve much bigger crowds in college, which creates a fear of public speaking for students who don’t feel confident enough. This situation leads to a great fear of joining college, especially for students who weren’t good with public speaking in school. 

Luckily, that can be efficiently dealt with through valuable videos and articles that effectively teach how to participate in public speaking. 

Some classes might also prove to be more challenging than what most students are used to taking. The secret is focusing and turning in assignments on time. Remember, professors are there to help; talking to them is often very helpful. 

See Do You Have To Do Presentations in College?

What To Expect in College (Course Schedules, Social Life, etc.)

College is drastically different from high school. For many people, that can be positive; however, it may be negative for others. Having some insight about what to expect can go a long way.

The Responsibility of Freedom

Going to college comes with a lot of freedom. It is important not to get too overwhelmed or become irresponsible with your time or money.

No one will make sure you manage your course schedule properly or turn in your assignments. Even your professors will treat you with the respect that comes with freedom. You will succeed or fail based on your own decisions, and like in real life, self-discipline comes with many rewards.

Making responsible choices will lead to less stress and anxiety. The responsible habits you create in college will prepare you for the responsibilities of adulthood after graduation.

Time Management

Due to how college classes are structured, there is less class time required in college than in high school. Therefore, it is crucial to manage that free time appropriately. Doing so will allow you to handle your classwork and enjoy a healthy social life.

Set a schedule to help you manage things like:

  • Class time
  • Study time
  • Eating
  • Sleeping
  • Laundry
  • Socializing
  • Exercising
  • Student Organizations
  • Shopping
  • Working

Financial Responsibility

Being smart with your money now can pay off tremendously in the future. You need to do several things to ensure you don’t create habits that can lead to financial ruin. Follow these tips to build the foundation of financial success.

  • Create a budget for food, books, clothes, etc.
  • Don’t borrow more student loan money than you need.
  • Don’t apply for credit cards you can’t afford.
  • Monitor your credit for accuracy and to help prevent fraud.
  • Start working on your financial relationship with a nearby bank.
  • Don’t waste money on things you do not need.
  • Limit the amount of money loan and do not loan to irresponsible people.

One of the best ways to determine what to expect in college is to talk to people who have recently experienced it. Reach out to upperclassmen for advice that is more specific to your specific college or university. The more input you get, the better chance you have at success in college and life (source).

What is the first day of college like?

How To Prepare if You Are Scared of a College Workload

College involves a much heavier workload compared to high school. There will be assignments, exams, and tests that are more challenging than ever. 

One of the best skills you can have in college is managing your time more effectively. The following are some of the ways you can prepare for a massive workload in college.

Avoid Procrastinating

When there’s a lot to get done, it’s normal to push things to the side and plan to complete them later. However, procrastination is the worst thing while in college or anywhere else.

Work on a regular schedule and get things done one at a time. This practice helps get a lot more done without feeling too much pressure. Give yourself more time to work on something instead of doing it last minute; set the due date a few days early in order to have everything done on time.

Create a Schedule

The best way to manage a heavy workload is by having a schedule and following through with it, and making the most of your free time when out of class is extremely helpful. 

Create a schedule that makes time for assignments, exercising, and having some fun with friends. This practice builds a routine that won’t create feelings of stress and panic.

Make Time for Fun Activities

All work without play isn’t healthy. It doesn’t matter how many classes you’re taking; time to unwind is essential. Engage in a favorite hobby by ensuring time is set aside for self-care, exercising, fun times, or even a mental health break.

Fun activities help keep emotions balanced and create opportunities to relax from the stress of classes and life. Not engaging in fun activities might wear young students out even before the semester ends; 30 minutes a day is a good start.

Reduce Work Time

If you have a job on the side, working for many hours might lead to poor grades, failed classes, and ultimately isn’t worth it. Consider cutting back on your hours or taking a part-time job working online if possible. 

Working online also saves time typically spent commuting, which gives more time to focus on coursework and even enhances classroom performance.

Talk to Professors

Sometimes more time is needed to complete an assignment or project. Talking to the professor may help because they’re often quite understanding for those willing to work. They may even provide some tips or insight to help you successfully pass their class.

Talking to a counselor is also an excellent idea for students who do not feel comfortable talking to the professor. Counselors are familiar with the stress students have when handling huge workloads, and they’ll guide you accordingly.

See What Is the First Day of College Like? (With Survival Tips!)

How To Get Over the Fear of Going to College 

The following tips will effectively help new college students deal with the fear of going to college:

Channel Fears Into Something Exciting

Anxiety can manifest in different ways, including insomnia, changes in eating habits, etc. Putting that energy into something fun and enjoyable will help calm fears. 

Researching student organizations to join can help with feeling more prepared for college. Being with others who have similar feelings and concerns can have a calming effect. 

Connect With Students Who Are Already in College

Talking to someone who is already in college can help create a feeling of reassurance. It’s easier to put things in perspective when hearing the experiences of others. It enables you to realize that the experience isn’t as bad as you may think, and there can be many positive experiences that’ll grow from the college years.

Attend Campus Events and Orientation

Attending orientation introduces new students to the programs available in the school, and in the process, aids in building new friendships and interests. There may also be a chance to meet with the adviser, who’ll provide guidance throughout your college career. 

Enhance Your Practical Life Skills

Being alone in college will help you gain many practical life skills. Things taken for granted when there is family around to help, like cooking, handling finances, and cleaning, will be your responsibility.

Learn how to get things done by asking for help from family before you finally leave for college. That makes it easier to handle living alone. 

Care for Your Mental Health and Wellness

Before going to college, inquire about and get access to resources for mental health and wellness. Knowing these services are available can be comforting. By the time you go to college, you’ll be much more prepared to handle anything that may happen. 


One thing to never forget while you prepare for college is that you aren’t alone. There are a large number of students experiencing the same thing and feeling the same emotions and fears. The first step towards overcoming those fears is embracing them and understanding that they are part of the most amazing four years of your life.

Take everything one day at a time, one moment at a time, and give your best effort in everything you do. The success you find in college can pave the path to finding tremendous success in life.

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