Written by Becca M., Sprout Contributor

We enter college with high expectations and goals for the next four or five years of our lives. We come to college thinking we will meet our future Mr. or Mrs. Right, and assume we will never screw up a relationship again. We have learned from high school heartbreaks and feel we are prepared to handle ourselves in the college world.

Then we meet the wrong people, fall into the wrong crowd, and fall for the bad boys or girls. We think we can fix/change him or her. We find out that we were afraid of the word “love,” the kind that makes you shut down when a guy or girl starts treating you well. Then you hear your best friend started dating the guy that hurt her badly last year, and she feels ashamed for getting involved again.

At this moment, you realize that college isn’t at all what you thought it was going to be. You walk in as a freshman on move-in day with high hopes – many of us want different clubs and travel the world. By your senior year, you sit back and think, “Where did those years go?” When people tell you to enjoy your college years because they go fast, it really is true. College isn’t like high school at all.

College classes are very different than high school classes. In college, you have some classes on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and other classes you have on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Sometimes you even have a class in the evening that lasts two and a half hours. College also has labs and those are typically two hours long.

Most professors will give you ten-minute breaks if the class is going well, but some choose to lecture straight through until the class ends. Many professors don’t care whether or not you turn in homework, and when you don’t, they just give you a zero or a lower grade if you turn it in late.

In college, you also get more homework than in most high school classes. I had an English professor that assigned the class 100+ pages of readying on a Monday, and then gave us a quiz at the very beginning of class on Wednesday. Trust me, reading that many pages in one night isn’t fun, but if you don’t complete all the reading, you will likely to poorly on the quizzes.

Chances are you or your parents are paying for your school and textbooks. So go to class and get good grades. Don’t waste the money to sleep in a dorm when you and/or your parents are paying so much money for a higher education.

When entering college, you gain a lot of freedom and independence. With this freedom comes responsibility, and this is when you start becoming an adult. You are responsible for getting your own meals, washing your own clothes, setting an alarm to get to class on time, completing homework, getting along with roommates, and more – the list seems to go on forever. You may pick a local college or one that is far away, but wherever you choose to go, you are still becoming an adult. Professors and staff at college expect you to treat them like adults, too.

And who can forget the emotional toll that college takes on most students. We all realize that no one lives a perfect life, and we have all been through some deep days in our lives. For the longest time, I thought I was the only person going through some of the experiences I dealt with in life – I thought no one at school would understand the pain I’ve had to deal with. I mean, how many students lose both parents before even graduating high school? And how many have also overcome cancer? I thought there weren’t very many – but that all changed this year when I met some really great friends who don’t judge me because of my past.

During a recent bible study, which I was leading, I had the girls do a spoken poem night to share something that weighed their hearts down. When I started reading off of my paper, it hit me that, although we might all think we are different, in reality we have all been hurt, lost someone, had heartbreak, been used, and hurt ourselves and others.

Friendships do form in college – some will last, and some definitely won’t. While most people in high school agree to stay in touch, by the third year in college I honestly just didn’t have the time to continue keeping up with everyone.

Don’t stress about making the transition from high school to college – this is the time of your life. We don’t have replay buttons, so don’t stress. If you get lost in a new school, chances are you’re not the only one – and you definitely won’t be the last person to be lost at college.