The transition from High School to College

tigerandamy's picture

Next year I am going to be going off to college 7 hours away in Buffalo. I was wondering if anyone found it easier to be themselves when they went to college or it still hard to truly be who you are? Somepeople keep telling me that when you are in college there are lots of gay/lesbian networks and groups. Is that true?
Kris :)

Boygasm's picture

Honey, no transition is ever

Honey, no transition is ever smooth. So you are bound to experince some changes and sacrifises for yourself as well. It will be hard at first then it becomes easier later.

So take one day at a time!

Jazzer's picture

What I've found...

...is that when you go to college, you have a chance to change who you are (or to simply be the person you were never allowed to be at home). Nobody will know about whatever mistakes you've made in the past (unless you tell them), and you're free to make whatever changes in your life that you feel are positive. I looked at college as a chance to "rediscover" who I was, so to speak, and I've loved every minute of it. The best advice I can give is to do some research before going to Buffalo and find out about some GLBT hangouts and social groups--you'll make friends that'll last a lifetime.

Michael

Some people's kids...I tell ya!

greyboi's picture

Well...

Here's some advice from a 19/yr sophomore:

1.) Don't rush into the gay scene. The people there have "always" been there and there are some people, like in any group, that could care less if you lived or died. Gay folks in college are pretty much just like the rest of the campus, so don't expect to be immediately taken into open and loving arms. Some people are nice and others can be cruel. What you want to do is take your time and sift through the crowd to find genuine people you can trust.

2.) Learn about finances before you leave home. By now you should be saving, which I'm sure you most certainly are. It would also be a good idea to learn how to balance a checkbook, choose insurance, and control your spending habits. It sounds all like common sense, but you'd be surprised to find that most college freshmen don't even know how to use an ATM.

3.) Apply for a credit card and RARELY use it. I emphasize RARELY, because you'll end up in severe debt before you even realize it. You should only use a credit card, perhaps, to purchase your books when you really need the dough, when your car breaks down and there is no ATM or check-cashing station for miles, or when you REALLY REALLY (and I mean, a real matter of life and death) need the dough. A 2AM pizza isn't considered an "emergency". If you think this is going to be a problem, then forget it all together. However, it would be a good idea to get a card, since once you graduate and need an apartment and they're going to check to see it you had any previous credit and if you don't then you're in tuff luck.

4.) Be careful about joining campus (especially off-campus) organizations. Take the first semester to scope things out first. If you remember my story about my experience with the La Rouche cult, you'd see that there are many people wandering on a college campus and not all of them have your best interests at mind, even if they allege that they do. I'd probably join student government, an academic club, and/ or maybe the campus' gay and lesbian organization.

5.) NEVER give out your phone number or home (or dorm) address. This includes friends, dates, campus clubs, etc. Stalking is at its highest levels on college campuses and I have had my identity stolen more than once. Get a free voicemail service like K7, preferably one in your area and give that out. Direct all letters to a private mailbox that has a "regular" street address. You might want to use this on documents when they ask for "address". The only exception is with school, job, and government documents. Those you should submit with a statement declairng that you want a privacy block, to "opt-out", and to be removed from mailing lists (your school, unlike how it was in high school, will freely give out your home phone and mailing address to the highest bidder, this includes telemarketers, private investigators, and online "finder" services like US Search, who will sell your Social Security number for as little as .97.

6.) Unless you want casual, one-night stand, sex, the gay personal ads that talk about "hookups" and "short-term relationships" may not be for you. And remember, never give them your home phone #. Always use a free Internet voicemail number.

7.) Be careful in the city. Carry pepperspray when traveling at night. Never give money to a panhandler, no matter how much they beg of you(it's okay to give out food though, but giving money could lead to you being mugged). If someone asks something strange, like to give you four quarters for a dollar, refuse. It's a scam or an attempt to rob you. Don't talk to people you don't know, unless they're a sales rep or a cutie in a nightclub or cafe.

8.) CONDOMS, SAFER SEX, PROTECTION! This is common sense. I don't care what you've heard. Protection is the only way.

9.) Secure your valueables. Don't carry your Social Security card or birth certificate in your wallet. Put it in a good quality fire safe that you'll keep in your bedroom closet or a special hidden cabinet. See to it that it has both a combination and key lock. Engrave your driver's license number on the bottom of all your electronic devices and on your computer. If your dorm is robbed, this will make it easier for the police to identify your property in the event of a recovery.

10.) Have fun. Remember, you only get to go through this part of life once. It's better to enjoy the experience and make it memorable, instead of spending the majority of your time beating around the bush with your roommate and agonizing over the phone calls of your parents. Take time out for yourself and try to meet new people.

Like someone wise said ealier, "[T]ake one day at a time."

linds's picture

more thoughts...

Security precautions should depend upon the safety and security level of your campus. At my undergrad institution there are uniformed security officers at every entrance, you need ID for access to all buildings, especially the dormitories, and external solicitors are for the most part kept off-campus. (I certainly never needed to carry pepper spray, not even on the A train to the airport at 4 in the morning.) My graduate institution is housed in only one building, but it is not possible to gain access to it without proper ID -- I couldn't even show my parents the inside of the place.

As far as security off-campus goes: use your brain. If you're going to get wasted in one way or another, don't do it in a strange place or with strange people. When alone, or in a part of the city you don't know, be aware of your surroundings.

Strangers. Again, use your brain. And remember that a bad experience with one individual (or even several) doesn't mean that everyone's out to get you. Be as careful as you feel you need to be. I think internet voicemail is ridiculous, for example. When you have settled in, get a feel for where you are and decide what will work best for you.

Get to know the people you are living with, they are often a good first base of friends and resources.

A credit card is a good idea, and it is important to be wary of debt. Even one mistake will put a black mark on your credit report -- and that won't be removed until long after you've finished college. Take it from someone who made one of those mistakes. :)

College is about learning and growth, both personal and academic, in a way that high school was not. Embrace your ability to try things out and to explore while you're there. If it takes you a while to adjust, don't worry.

Work to make friends, but make friends with people who will stick by you and not just with the other queer people on campus. That said, don't be so wary of joining gay groups. The more resources and support you have at your disposal when you first start out, the better. The key is not to get stuck, to always remember that you have the ability to change -- change groups, change friends, change yourself. You're not obligated to remain involved anywhere or with anyone.

You are paying tuition in order to learn, so once you've settled upon a program or major, spend some time getting to know the professors in your department.

Figure out what you need and when you figure out how you need to get it, be pushy. College is about learning to be self-sufficient.

You'll be fine.

~Linds

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Special Envoy to Tea-Drinking Nations for The Movement To Free Oompa Loompa Land From The Tyrannical Rule Of The Evil Capitalistic Despot Willy Wonka And Associates

hol's picture

panic!!!

I think that Greling was *even* making me panic about college, and I've finished my undergrad, and am currently working on my MA. And I think Linds put some of this in perspective.

My piece of learned wisdom - experience and observational - alcohol and drugs, be careful. If you choose to engage, do so responsibly and know your limits. Don't consume so much that you lose self-control. This can make for embarrassing situations, cause physical harm from doing shit that was stupid when sober and smart when not, and can leave you in a situation vulnerable to others.

Go out, have a few drinks with friends. Don't drink so much that you can't walk home on your own, or don't even make it to your own home.

Looking back on some of the stuff I have done, I was lucky to make it home, and I could have really hurt myself or someone else, cause there were times when how I got home was a wee bit blurry the next morning.

~hol
(if this was preachy, sorry, it wasn't meant to be)

linds's picture

glad to hear...

... that it wasn't just me who panicked after reading Greling's cautionary tales.

I want to address the "queer community in college" issue more directly -- let's see how good of a job I do. I went to a women's college, and the number of lesbians on campus was higher than average. But it was not queer paradise by any means. The thing to realize is that the gay population is almost always underrepresented on campus. For every person who belongs to the campus gay group, there are one or two that don't. Oftentimes, those that don't might not agree with the mission of the group, or they have a lot of fear, or both. I know that in my case it was both things. I felt very alienated from the queer community in college, in part because I was afraid of joining, but in part because I just didn't seem to "fit": I'm not an activist, political or otherwise, I'm private about sex, and I'm not particularly thrilled about (trans)gender-inclusiveness at a women's college.

All this, and I'm only one person -- out of how many? Don't discount the queer groups on campus, just be aware that they only reflect part of the queer population. So make friends based on other characteristics as well.

That said, if the aims of the gay groups on campus align with your own, or if you want a social network to start building out from, get over your fears and jump right in. For all of my political differences, I wish I had participated a little more in the queer community at Barnard/Columbia.

~Linds

Note: I seem to feel a real need to give advice about college having left it. This is not meant to be sanctimonious or patronizing. It's almost me being nostalgic! :)

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Special Envoy to Tea-Drinking Nations for The Movement To Free Oompa Loompa Land From The Tyrannical Rule Of The Evil Capitalistic Despot Willy Wonka And Associates

Leisa's picture

"leaping tall dorms in a sing

"leaping tall dorms in a single bound!" I found a red cape Linds! But its like for a 3 year old. Fear not, I'll keep searching!

Chief Political Right Hand Woman to Ceo, Founder and First Member of The Movement to Free Oompa Loompa Land from the Tryanicall Capitalsitic Despot Willy Wonka

linds's picture

but I bought the coat :)

Leisa, I went out and got my pin-striped number. Which is not exactly pin-striped, the stripes are lots of tiny little dots. Wore it home on the subway today, looking very sharp, and made eye contact with a cute dyke (who was taking her bicycle home on the F train at rush hour -- BAD idea there, girl). When the train stopped abruptly, unfortunately, I fell right over, onto the bike. A red superhero cape my new jacket is not. It did, however, help me to start up a conversation with the girl...

...who promptly got off the train way before I did. Sigh.

~Linds

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Special Envoy to Tea-Drinking Nations for The Movement To Free Oompa Loompa Land From The Tyrannical Rule Of The Evil Capitalistic Despot Willy Wonka And Associates

Leisa's picture

Lindsey!

Yay! How cool are you! I know you bumped into that bicycle on purpose you sneaky little devil you! How was Smalls?

Chief Political Right Hand Woman to Ceo, Founder and First Member of The Movement to Free Oompa Loompa Land from the Tryanicall Capitalsitic Despot Willy Wonka

linds's picture

Leisa!

On purpose my ass -- it was rush hour, I've never been on an F train that damn crowded!

I didn't go to Smalls. I chose something else. Then I didn't go to that either. I did have a very invigorating and helpful three-hour walk, though.

~Linds

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Special Envoy to Tea-Drinking Nations for The Movement To Free Oompa Loompa Land From The Tyrannical Rule Of The Evil Capitalistic Despot Willy Wonka And Associates

Leisa's picture

Silly me

for thinking you would be so schemingly devious. Bwahahahahaha! Too bad you didn't go to Smalls, I was looking forward to hearing the review. Glad you had a good walk though. :-D

Chief Political Right Hand Woman to Ceo, Founder and First Member of The Movement to Free Oompa Loompa Land from the Tryanicall Capitalsitic Despot Willy Wonka

greyboi's picture

Boo! :)

I guess I'm a bit paranoid, because most of the LA colleges are in rough areas, including mine. Out here, as soon as you walk off campus, you have to put up your guard, because you never know what'll happen next. I've had too many terrible things happen to me in one year and I've learned from my experiences. Life is fun, but very fast in the city.

linds's picture

well.

Where do you think I went to school, the middle of nowhere? What type of college do you think I'll be teaching at this fall? :) I know a little bit about "rough" neighborhoods. Keep in mind that wherever you are, incoming students need to be educated, not scared shitless.

And have faith in the good intentions of others once in a while.

~Linds

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Special Envoy to Tea-Drinking Nations for The Movement To Free Oompa Loompa Land From The Tyrannical Rule Of The Evil Capitalistic Despot Willy Wonka And Associates

jules's picture

or...

You could not be paranoid and work from the possibility that when someone asks you for a dollar in exchange for four quarters, they probably actually need a dollar.

-

Look. You know all of those rules and good sense kind of things that you did or did not keep in mind in high school? Well now you will or will not be keeping them in mind at university.

You'll fuck up. And maybe you'll learn from those mistakes. And if you don't, you might fuck up again.

-

A little paranoia always pays off, but usually only when you're doing shit about which you should be paranoid. Like binge drinking. Or talking to the cutie at the nightclub or cafe who wants to mug you just like everybody else.

~Jules, this is a mostly sarcastic response to the above ideas because it is my feeling that they may be somewhat inflammatory, grandiose, and fear fuel(ing/ed). And while a good dose of reality is good to have, this strikes me more as the imaginary badlands of what if and hypothetically and make sure your underwear is clean before you cross the street.

______________

Historian of The Movement To Free Ommpa loompa Land From The Tyrannical Rule Of The Evil Capitalsitic Despot Willy Wonka And Associates

greyboi's picture

Other way around...

"You could not be paranoid and work from the possibility that when someone asks you for a dollar in exchange for four quarters, they probably actually need a dollar."

I said four quarters for a dollar. If someone offers you change in exchange for a bill, know that this this a popular scam in LA and New York. I've witnessed someone get burned by this one. What usually happens is the person hands you a bunch of change that adds up to less than what you gave them. Worse case, they snatch your purse or wallet and take off (the whole point was to distract you).

jules's picture

I know.

So did I. With different words.

And thank you for the dumbed down clarification to what I got the first time.

I think the key word here, for all of these worse case scenarios - and especially this one, is discretion. Not, fear.

Social breeches are interesting, Greling. Sometimes they're about quirks and not scams. Sometimes people just need a dollar.

~Jules

______________

Historian of The Movement To Free Ommpa loompa Land From The Tyrannical Rule Of The Evil Capitalsitic Despot Willy Wonka And Associates

J's picture

Similarly

Tigerandamy,

I suppose you could say my experience of moving away from home to university where I knew practicly nobody was pretty much the same as what you are thinking.

When I got to university I was still hiding the fact that I was anything other that straight. That didn't last so long! I was a long way from my small town of 650 people and eventually I realized I didn't have to hide anymore.

Most people were great. There is always the odd one or two, or three or four that don't agree with the person you are. I had to learn that I would run into people like that anywhere I go. It wasn't just my small little town anymore.

At my university there is a group called the Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Transgender Center (GLBT). People that have questions, gay or straight, can go, join, and hangout there. Personally, I'm not a member. I was lucky enough to have great friends to talk to, answer my questions, and help me through difficult and confusing times. one of them actually introduced my to this site. The brightest and most beautiful individual I know. One of the best friends I could ask for, Jules.

I'm sure everything will be just fine. Try and enjoy the experience, be yourself as soon as you feel ready, and make mistakes. Lots of them. We grow and learn from mistakes.

Joe

jules's picture

LOL

Joe, you are incorrigible.

~Jules

______________

Historian of The Movement To Free Ommpa loompa Land From The Tyrannical Rule Of The Evil Capitalsitic Despot Willy Wonka And Associates

J's picture

I thought you knew....

I don't really like being corrected!
Joe

RoaG's picture

Well...

... personally, I can't freakin wait to get the hell off to college and meet some queers and actually EXPLORE my sexuality. I never realized how oppressive high school until I graduated a couple of weeks ago. I think just having gay/bi friends is going to be refreshing. I think it's a shoe-in that college will be good for queers.

That is, unless you're going to Liberty. *murmuring* Fucking Jerry Falwell.

glennjamin's picture

It's so uselessly tertiary.

University is one of the greatest experiences you will ever have, enjoy it. Ignore any dire warnings and try to use a little common sense. Most universities have a queer group of some kind and you will probably meet some other gay/lesbian people, i have 3 other gay people in one of my classes alone (it's a class of about 20). I think people are generally more open about who they are when they are at uni. My university has an equity policy which covers sexual orientation, and a lot of universities in my country do. The most noticible thing about university/college you will find is generally the freedom that you have when compared with high school which makes it easier to express yourself (at my high school we had a strict uniform policy and a plethora rules). My advice is just try not to have too many expectations and enjoy what life hurls at you.

piercedxxgoddess's picture

Hey, I'm in the same boat! I

Hey, I'm in the same boat! I'm moving from a small town in Michigan to New York, NY. I'm already out with everyone but my family, so I plan on being totally out in college. To each his own though, you should do what feels best for you.

"The tube is civilization!" -Tycho

transalex's picture

I go to a large university -

I go to a large university - UMass/Amherst - where there are over 20000 other people there. We have all the problems of a large city - drugs, violence, armed robberies, rapes - but we also have all the cultural stuff too, student groups for everything from Republicans, to GLBT stuff, to gaming, to every racial minority one can think of. I think the basic lesson is just use your head. Don't wear headphones while walking across campus after dark, keep your eyes open, lock your door at night, but also, get out there, go to group meetings for anything you might be interested in, talk to people, exchange emails if they seem okay to you. Trust your own judgement, and be careful, but don't be paranoid.

And most of all, be yourself. If people can't accept you for who you are, they aren't worth your time, and just find some new people. There are lots out there at college. There are people everywhere and they will like you for you.

Yes, you have to unlearn high school habits. And that may take awhile, it certainly did for me, but after a month or so, you realize that this really isn't high school anymore, and the assholes can go fuck themselves, and you can meanwhile have a blast. College is a great experience. New friends, new ideas, lots of cool stuff to learn, new experiences. Just keep your head about you, and go for it. Good luck. :)

alex, UMass class of '04