You have graduated from high school, spent the summer making memories with family and friends, and now it’s time to start college. You may experience mixed emotions given this new journey in your life. You might be excited to have a new independence – living on your own, deciding when and what to eat, hanging out late with friends. Perhaps, sharing a room with a complete stranger makes you a little nervous or maybe you are enthusiastic about having a new friend to study with or to join you for social events. You may have concerns about your courses- will I like them? Will they be too hard? Will I meet the professor’s expectations? All these emotional responses and thoughts are normal when adjusting to college. It will take some time for you to acclimate to this new environment and to become comfortable with this new chapter in your life. So don’t think that everything will fall into place the first day of school. Here are a few tips to help you make a smooth college transition and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
- Get to know the campus. Take a tour with an upper-class student. Learn the buildings where you will have classes, meetings, and social events. Becoming aware of your surroundings will make you feel more comfortable with the new environment.
- Give attention to food choices. The endless amount of food at the dining halls and late night food runs makes it easy to develop unhealthy eating habits. Be mindful of the foods you are eating and make food choices that you feel are best for you.
- Make time to move. You may refer to this as exercise but moving your body can help you with managing stress, anxiety, and depression. You don’t have to go to the gym in order to reap the benefits. Simply walk to or around campus instead of riding the bus or driving your car, play an intramural sport, or enroll in a dance class.
- Get some zzzzz! Late night studying or hanging out late may result in poor sleeping habits. It’s important that you are getting proper sleep in order to be alert and productive. Lack of sleep can impact your memory, mood, ability to learn and retain information, increase stress, and may result in injuries or long-term health issues.
- Ask for help. Avoid waiting until mid-semester or the end of the semester to seek help with your academic work. Take advantage of tutoring services, the writing center, study sessions, and professors’ office hours. If you have a disability, register with the Disability Resource Center in order to arrange for accommodations. Planning ahead can help you be successful in your classes.
- Have a healthy relationship with your roommate(s). Having a roommate can be a big adjustment for all parties. It is important for you and your roommate to meet and communicate expectations. Develop an agreement about how you all will share your space.
- Meet your professors. You might think your professors are only interested in lecturing but faculty like to get to know their students as well. Visit them during their office hours and introduce yourself. If you have questions about the class, class preparation, or ideas discussed in class, talk with the professors about them. Don’t wait until you need a recommendation letter to introduce yourself to your professors. Meet with them now!
- Make new friends. College is a time to meet new people and make great connections. You will encounter people from different backgrounds and even from different parts of the world. You may find it easy to make new friends or it may take time for you to establish relationships. Regardless, take the opportunity to meet someone new. You may just gain a lifelong friend.
With these tips in hand, you should be well on your way to having a successful first year of college. If you find that you are having a difficult time with this transition, you are welcome to meet with me. I have over 14 years of experience working with college students. I’d be glad to help you on your new journey. I can be reached at Marian@ca4wellbeing.com or 706-425-8900 ext. 704.