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Frequently Asked Questions (Part II)

Andriana answers another set of common questions about college!

Andriana answers another set of common questions about college!

Hi everyone!

Last week, I wrote a post answering common questions about college. This week, I’ll go through a few more questions that come up frequently among prospective students.

1. What was the hardest part of starting college?

The answer to this question will differ greatly depending on the individual; while some students might struggle with adapting to the college social scene, others might have more difficulty adjusting to the academic environment. I think my own answer to this question changed throughout the first term. At first, I was so busy with new student activities, I didn’t have time to worry too much, so my stress was pretty low. As the term progressed, though, I had an increasingly difficult time with being so far from home.

I’m really close to my parents, and going from Virginia to Minnesota was a big move for me. Additionally, before starting college, I had never spent more than a week away from my parents at a time, so simply being away from them for so long was an adjustment. There’s no easy solution to this problem; it just takes time to learn to be far away from your family, and to understand that they can’t be with you as soon as something goes wrong.

As hard as it was at first, I did adjust, and now I’m more confident in my ability to be independent, which I find very empowering. If you choose to go out of state for college, know that it will probably be hard at first, but that it will ultimately teach you valuable life skills as well. No matter what challenges you face when you begin college, remember that they’re temporary, and that colleges also have resources available to help you through the transition.

2. Was it difficult to adapt to college academics?

Yes and no. I mentioned earlier that New Student Week is too busy to feel terribly stressed (at least that was my experience). I felt the same way at the beginning of the term, as well. I was so caught up in starting my classes, beginning new jobs, and getting to know my professors and classmates, that I didn’t fixate on the amount of homework I had. I settled into a routine fairly quickly and did my homework without getting too stressed about it.

I think this is a very personal experience. Everyone has a different approach to academics, and generally, I try not to worry too much about school. This isn’t to suggest that I was never stressed about school when I started college. College is a lot of work, and there were definitely points throughout fall term that were stressful, but I think everyone will experience this, regardless of the school they attend – it’s inevitable.

That being said, I know a lot of people were stressed at the beginning of the term about the workload, and especially the amount of reading assigned. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, but try to enjoy the beginning of college – take the time to meet new people, go to events. Don’t miss out on these experiences because of schoolwork stress; I’m not suggesting you should slack either, but try to keep things in perspective.

3. How do you decide what to bring to college?

Buying supplies for my dorm created a good bit of pre-college stress. There were many trips to Bed Bath & Beyond, lots of arrangements for shipping, and then when we arrived in Minnesota, tons of errands to run. Just know in advance that shopping for college–especially if you’re going out of state, which adds a layer of complication–will be frustrating at times. That is, unless you genuinely enjoy shopping and decorating, in which case it will probably be a much better experience.

Carleton (and most schools, I think) provides a list of things to purchase for the dorm. Be sure to look at the list and see what the school recommends that you have. Beyond the necessities–sheets and towels, for example–think about what would help the room feel more comfortable and familiar. One thing I bought and would highly recommend is a collapsible comfy chair (courtesy of BB&B). The desk chairs provided by the college are not super comfortable, and I try not to be in bed during the day. The chair was a godsend.

Additionally, I bought a cheap set of string lights with photo clips, and hung up a ton of photographs of my friends and family beside my bed. I also brought my favorite poster and a painting from home, which made the dorm feel more like my bedroom. My roommate even brought a rug for our room since Cassat has tile instead of carpet on the floors. Essentially, try to bring whatever you need to feel at home.

Finally, remember that Minnesota is cold, and that you won’t really need warm clothes beyond September. Focus on packing sweaters, jeans, and coats, rather than shorts and t-shirts, even though it will be warm(ish) for the first few weeks. Try to bring an extra blanket and warm comfy clothes as well. One weekend in late October/early November, the heat in my dorm went out and it was pretty cold. Luckily, everything was fixed quickly, but for a few nights, I slept in a sweatshirt, sweatpants, heavy socks, and with a blanket on top of my duvet. Ultimately, when you pack, think about anything you might need for the cold Minnesota weather.

I hope this was helpful! Feel free to email me with any additional questions at


P.S. Here’s a picture of me visiting Carleton the day before I moved in:

Andriana visiting carleton

Andriana is a native of Richmond, VA, and is looking forward to starting her freshman year at Carleton. She is especially excited to experience the Minnesotan Tundra first-hand and learn what the phrase “polar vortex” really means. When Andriana isn’t busy staying warm, you can find her binge-reading, playing music, or watching a favorite movie or show for the umpteenth time. She is hoping to double major in International Relations and English, while also reminding herself to keep an open mind as she begins her college career. Meet the other bloggers!