Acing the Spookiest Parts of College - University of Houston
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11/13/2020 - Acing the Spookiest Parts of College

This Friday the 13th, we bring to you a spooky post.

When asked what they expected to be – or currently find to be! - the scariest or most challenging aspects of college, Bonner students highlighted a handful of frightening themes. Read on to find out what current students consider to be the spookiest parts of college and what advice they have to share...  

Monster Hunt

The Future

It’s no surprise that with college comes a lot of anxiety about life after college. Whether it’s figuring out what your major should be, or figuring out what to do after you graduate, ~the future~ can always be scary! When faced with fears about making the right decisions for your future, they suggest:  

  • Thinking about what classes and extracurricular involvements you really enjoy and why 
  • Embrace the uncertainty and write your plan in pencil – figuring out what you want to do with your life can be a long process and sometimes you have to embrace the challenge 
  • Lean on your support network – friends, family, professors, mentors etc. Knowing that others have your back helps the future look a lot less scary!  
  • Seek advice from experts or professionals in your field(s) of interest – you are not the first to take this journey and you can learn a lot from those who came before you 
  • Set goals in all areas of your life (career, personal, relationships, financial, spiritual), not just academic or career – these goals will help you direct your efforts when planning and building your future life 

“I do what I love. Allow yourself the opportunity to explore other options and be open to change; you get to set your own path now. I changed my major ... and I've never been happier with my career path. The key, I think, is to find what works for you. Not everything will work for you. I was a bio major for 2 months before I switched majors because I knew it just wouldn't work for me. Ultimately, you need to do what you think is best for you because you are creating your own future.” 

“The actual decision of where to work or where to or if to go to grad school is just as daunting as I expected. I think the biggest thing to learn is that it is your decision and your life, so you have to choose what is going to make you the best version of you in the long run. ” 

Student studying

Workload and Work-Life Balance 

The spooky secret to work-life balance, the Bonners say, is that there is no secret at all! The workload of college is undoubtedly heavier than high school, and each year brings with it increasingly difficult classes and commitments. In order to balance it all, the Bonners recommend a focus on time-management strategies and personal organization, to learn how to say “no” and narrow your involvements, and to administer a healthy dose of self-care. You must prioritize balance, they say, or you will never achieve it. 

“I handled the workload of classes through proper time management. I write down all assignments, due dates, papers, quizzes, exams on my Google Calendar. I do lecture notes before class to be prepared and practice spaced repetition for studying. I practice self-care and relax when my body tells me to, fueling my brain and soul to allow me to believe in myself and keep running in the marathon called college. I've learned just how powerful I am, how small changes can make the biggest difference, and that I am in control of the result of my actions.” 

Mentor Group

Self-Comparison and Imposter Syndrome 

Among the spookiest parts of college, the Bonners say, is that constant nagging in the back of your head to do more or be better. Imposter syndrome is real, and the tendency to compare yourself to others can make achieving your goals and thriving in college difficult. To overcome imposter syndrome and comparison, the Bonners recommend: 

  • Learning to embrace your own unique strengths – we are all different and that is a good thing 
  • Identifying areas for personal growth and seeking out opportunities to learn or develop in those specific areas, like conquering your social anxiety by getting involved in interactive groups, or your fear of public speaking by joining speech and debate or signing up to give a presentation. 
  • Remind yourself of what you have already accomplished and that you can continue to succeed – you deserve to be here just as much as the person next to you 
  • Learn the value of failure and the resist your urge for perfectionism 

“I constantly keep reminding myself that everyone learns at different paces. I'm someone who takes a bit more time to understand concepts but that's okay. It doesn't make me any better or worse than the person next to me... Everyone has a different skill set and you have to use them towards what's best for you.” 

“I'm still scared of failing but even more scared of missing out on opportunities or even regretting not trying my best, when looking back. This is what motivates me.” 

Students playing games

Leaving Home 

For some, leaving home and stepping outside of your comfort zone can be daunting. One Bonner shared their reflection on this scary experience and how it worked for them: 

Though it was scary, “every new thing that was thrown in my face, I accepted ... This might sound cheesy, but I learned that life isn't just about making it through the day, barely surviving. Life is about making the most of every single day you have and truly living. Of course, there were experiences that I didn't enjoy as much as the rest of them, but I wouldn't have known that unless it actually happened. Life is a learning process, and I have to dive straight in. ” 

research graphic


Finally, some of the Bonners identified getting involved in research as one of the most intimidating parts of college. Figuring out your research project or topic, identifying a faculty mentor, creating a proposal and receiving funding – all these factors make getting involved in research seem daunting. Their advice:  

  • Reach out to the amazing faculty and staff at the Office of Undergraduate Research and Major Awards - they are experts on these questions and enthusiastic about connecting students with research opportunities 
  • Ask upperclassmen about their research journey and how they got started 
  • Don’t wait until you have your topic or research question nailed down to ask about getting started – crafting your research question is a part of the research process, and there are lots of people who can help you with that! 

Well, that wasn’t so scary after all! College and all of its constituent parts can seem like a frightening experience. In truth, it can be, but if you embrace the challenge, ask for help, and rely on your community, you will thrive, and you can count on the Bonner community to support you all the way.


Bonner love!