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What I wish I knew -Catherine Shea ’23

-Catherine Shea ’23


Growing up, I was a secret agent. As the youngest of three, I watched as all of my friends panicked with each new life change we faced. I smiled with confidence as they were frantic entering middle school, high school, and going to prom, knowing well that I had the inside scoop on it all. I took mental notes of my siblings’ experiences, preparing myself for when it was my turn. I learned all the ropes, what mistakes to avoid, what could help me along the way, and more.

So, as the second semester of my senior year of high school rolled along just about one year ago, I felt more confident than ever in my ability to face college. I was ready once again for my seemingly less knowledgeable friends to come flocking for my wisdom and beg me to give them all of the answers, but I was shocked to my core this time when I found that they were perfectly secure, and equally as shocked to find that I was not.

While many of my friends committed to a school before I did, it wasn’t the timing, or even the distance from home that scared me most. With only months to go before my first day of college, what I found myself most afraid of was making friends. It struck me that this was a task I hadn’t been faced with since sixth grade, and my lack of social media presence caused my fear to escalate even further. I watched as each of my friends joined Snapchat and Instagram groups, spoke with other people in their major, and began meeting up with possible roommates.

I started to panic. All of my high school classmates were going to enter college with a bunch of new friends, and I still knew no one. Would everyone else at Juniata have done the same thing? Will everyone know their friends already and I’ll be alone? This was something observing my siblings hadn’t prepared me for.

Me and my roommate outside our dorm room

If I could rewind the clock 365 days, I would tell myself that I am not the only one going into school blind, and that the supposed “friends” everyone was making were going to be distant memories within a few weeks. I would explain to myself all of the cool people I was going to meet, and how welcoming and kind everyone is at Juniata, regardless of if you may or may not have spoken to them prior to starting. I know now that there was no need to worry about who I would talk to, or if I would be good at making friends. Juniata made finding communities of people with similar interests to my own a breeze, and I could not be more grateful for all of the amazing people I have met. No one can be completely prepared for everything in college no matter who you think you are, but Juniata made it easy to adjust to a new setting and to meet great new people.