Wednesday, February 20th, 2019

High School to College Transition, Easy or Hard?

Posted on November 12, 2016 in Arts & Culture
By USM Free Press

By Dionne Smith, Free Press staff

Everyone needs friends, but it’s not always easy to make friends in a new place. Transitioning from high school to college is challenging enough. You’re leaving behind your old life in a controlled school environment, and you’re branching off into a completely different world. Socially, your world is also changing. High school used to be pretty simple. You would hang around the people you fit in with the most or you liked the most, but in college it can be difficult to find those kind of people so easily. “It was kind of difficult in a way,” said Christopher Chu, a freshman at USM, “because you’re moving away from everything that you’ve known, that set social structure that you’ve gotten used to for the past 13 years, including kindergarten.”

Being more outwardly social can be challenging when you make such a big change. Most of your life has been set up as being in one grade and making friends in your grade, and suddenly when a student goes off to college, either as a commuter or a residential student, it can be unnerving to really get yourself out there. Also, any high school friends that you did have, unless some of them are going  to the same college, are all off doing their own thing, and everyone doesn’t have as much time to talk and hang out as they used to in high school. Chu describes his transition to college as being defined as loneliness,. It’s very easy to feel lonely when you go to a different environment. You have no one to really call a friend, and your old friends are all too busy.

Being a residential student can also be unnerving. Dwayne Dyer, a USM freshman, said, “It’s different socially because you’re living with people you’ve never met before, it’s just a little weird.”  Dorms are definitely a little weird, and a little crowded in Gorham. It can be challenging to break out of your shell and try to get to know your roommate(s) and anyone else on the same floor. It can also be a bit scary because of how many people you have to live so closely with. And almost every single one of them are complete strangers. Even people who have graduated and can reminisce about their transition can say that is was hard. Natalie Hill, a worker at the bookstore, said that she had trouble making friends because she was out of her comfort zone and away from home.

Not every student has troubles with transitioning and making friends. Some students are just naturally social, and some are lucky enough to have friends from high school who go to the same college. “The social transaction was easy too because I’ve lived here for a long time,” said Halima Noor, a USM freshman. “People are familiar here from my high school and everything is just weirdly easy.” There are lots of students who wish they could say that for themselves, that they are able to transition and still see some of your old friends, and make new friends through  them. In fact, Victoria Simonau, who is a junior, had the same experience with making friends. Her old friends also go to USM, and she was able to make new friends with the people her old friends introduced her to. Christine Kim, a USM sophomore, is another person who was able to easily make friends because she is from Portland so she fits in easily and already knows what kind of people are in Portland. Then there are people who are just more socially competent. Robert Jordan, a USM senior, said that he didn’t have trouble making friends, that you just have to reach out and be an involved student, and of course use social media.

New students are usually lost as to what they should do with their time, saying they don’t really have people to hang out with, or they’re shy. Getting involved in a club could be a great way to expand your horizons, try new things and meet new people you will work with, and then cultivate a relationship with them and be able to call them friends.

For most, the transition can be difficult, but you have to get yourself out there and force yourself to be social. Madison LeBlanc, a USM senior, said, “It was difficult the first week or two but just after that I was able to break out of my quiet shell and actually talk to people.” For some people like LeBlanc, it just takes a little time. Once you really get a feel for what’s going on around you, you can be able to become slowly more and more social, and you may find that it’s not as hard as you thought it would be. As Noor said, “It’s better if you try to get out of your bubble and try to initiate the conversations first. I know everyone is afraid sometimes to do that but if you take that initiative for yourself it would be good.”



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