DEAR STRAIGHT TALK: I’m heading to an East Coast college this fall. My siblings all loved their college years and whenever I voice my nervousness they tell me it’s normal and will get better once I’m there. Every time I talk about leaving, I cry and can’t block out the “what if’s” and worst-case scenarios. My parents are worried I’ll end up transferring. I really like my life here and think, “Why move when I have such good thing?” From my competitive high school, everyone goes to college right away. I’m not sure I don’t want that, I’m just extremely nervous. Besides telling me how normal this is, what’s your advice for dealing with this huge transition?
— Eloise, 18, Beverly Hills
Brie, 23, San Francisco: Honestly, I hated high school and have not loved college, but it’s 100 percent better than high school. You can stay connected via Skype and FaceTime and holidays are long. Take a chance for your future! Give it a year before throwing in the towel. It’s like the first day of kindergarten, you’re scared and crying, then you start making friends and can’t wait to go back. YOU CAN DO THIS.
Kira, 22, Moraga: Keep busy, join clubs, play sports, talk to your parents daily. Orientation week will cover “what if’s” and ways to deal with everything, including homesickness — or getting your family to stop calling daily.
Rose, 23, Ukiah: It IS normal to feel nervous, even super nervous. I think you’re just more in touch with it. At 16, I went to study in Austria and was beyond scared. Going to college was almost worse because I knew I didn’t want to go. But it turned out amazing and I met a lot of friends. Realize: No choice is a wrong choice. Each teaches you something. Worst case: You hate it and change plans.
Omari, 21, Washington D.C.: My home life was great, too. Yet, college has honestly been the best experience! In my opinion, going directly after high school is important. Reentering “school mode” can be difficult after a break.
Carmela, 16, Davis: My advice: TRY to get excited. Make a list of East Coast activities you’ve always wanted to do. Brainstorm on decorating your room, or the kind of friends you want to make. Make clothing outfits, put on makeup differently, even try a new personality. Make this an opportunity to reinvent yourself.
Molly, 22, Oakland: One thing I’ve learned, the four-year college thing right after high school isn’t for everyone. That said, as great as your life is now, it won’t be the same when your peers have moved on and you’re wishing you had, too. Level with your parents that you don’t feel ready. Maybe get a job and figure yourself out. It won’t matter to defer college a year (officially, through the school).
Ashley, 26, Auburn: I love your honesty. This IS scary. I’m returning to college this fall, and sometimes wish I’d finished right away. Try discerning what’s really bugging you. Gut feelings are important but you can’t let fear of change hold you back. If you will regret not going, then GO. If you absolutely hate it, come back. But give the place a chance — i.e., more than a few months.
DEAR ELOISE: I’m hearing lots of “go, girl, go” and I’m on your cheer squad, too. Many girls are risk adverse — even for safe risks. The best thing for your development is step into this fear, so you learn that you CAN. Recommended activities: ropes course, Outward Bound, other appropriate courage training.