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Prospect of college, finally, excites and intimidates freshman

August 24, 2004|by BECKY JEFFERIES/Staff Writer

As if the college application process isn't stressful enough, waiting on notification letters and then preparing to actually go to college take anxiety to a whole new level.

I will be starting at the University of Maryland next week.

Racing to the mailbox in hopes of finding a letter from an admissions office every day for weeks is not exactly relaxing, and neither is the plague of having to choose only one school when they all have something unique to offer. The good news is once that part is over, it's almost time to say goodbye to Mom and Dad and hello to wild ... I mean, learning and studying.

Before that glorious move-in day arrives, however, a cloud of preparation hovers overhead, calling for orientation, immunizations and, oh yes, shopping!

Perhaps the most considerable on the list of obligations is orientation, a one- or two-day event for incoming freshmen and transfer students during which placement tests are given and class registration takes place. At orientation, students become better acquainted with the campus - building locations, dorm life, food, administration and classroom settings - while meeting new peers. Orientation gives students a peek into what life will be like, as well as a blueprint for the remaining steps that come before move-in day.

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Immunizations is one of them. Tuberculosis skin tests, hepatitis B vaccines and influenza vaccines are typical, as well as the required meningococcal vaccine. Depending on the individual school, certain immunizations might be mandatory for all students planning to live in campus housing.

The fun part, as many young women might agree, is shopping for dorm stuff.

A computer, storage cubes and bed sheets all fall under the category of obvious, while dozens of items, ranging from chip clips to poster tack, easily can be overlooked. The College Board Web site at www.collegeboard.com contains an extensive 128-item checklist of everything a first-year student might need for dorm life.

While there are many sources that attempt to prepare students for their freshman year at college, nothing's as enlightening as experience.

Devin Baer, 19, of Hagers-town, said he had a lot more freedom than he thought he would as a freshman at Salisbury University last year.

"Getting along with your roommate is a must-do, so just find things that you are both interested in and capitalize on those," Baer said. He also recommends using a daily planner to keep track of assignments and to stay organized.

Jonathan Russo, 19, of Hagerstown, said, based on his experience as a freshman at Penn State Mont Alto the dorm environment is smaller than expected. He recommended having everything organized and packed neatly. As for the social aspect, Russo said, "Don't be too uptight, be laid-back, and get to know as many people as you can."

Abbey Moore, 17, of Sharpsburg, attended Frostburg State University in the spring after graduating a half a year early from Boonsboro High School.

To a soon-to-be college freshman, Moore made several recommendations: Relax, map out classrooms before the first day, balance your studying and social life, and, above all, be open to new things. Moore also said that "high school is completely different, compared to college. If you don't do your stuff, you are going to fail, so make sure you are ready for it."

Although colleges strive to prepare new students for the college lifestyle, there is plenty left to the imagination. This might generate fear - as in my case - excitement, anxiety, a vast assortment of emotions, whatever.

So, as Moore said, "Just have faith in yourself."




Becky Jefferies is a 2004 graduate of Boonsboro High School and will be attending the University of Maryland this fall. She is an intern at The Herald-Mail. For a couple of weeks, she has shared her experiences on preparing for her first year in college.

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