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    How To Survive College – From Classrooms To Dorms

    It’s that time of year again. The stores are packed with parents and students shopping for all the necessary college accouterments. Some are back again, having already been through this process a time or two. Others are wide-eyed with anticipation and trepidation at the thought of their exciting academic experience. College is a time of growth and joy for many students, but for others, especially college freshmen, it can be incredibly stressful and can trigger new psychological problems or exacerbate already existing issues.

    According to the American Psychological Association, over 60% of college students met the criteria for at least one mental health problem. Additionally, in a recent survey, 44% of students reported symptoms of depression, 37% experienced anxiety, and 15% had seriously considered suicide. These statistics highlight the crucial need for mental health support on college campuses.

    It is not uncommon for first-year students to experience anxiety and/or depression. I recently spoke with someone who talked about coming to UGA for the first time as a student and during the first day of their first class they realized that there were more people in that one class than had been in their entire high school graduating class. That can be pretty daunting, and rightfully so.

    The purpose of this article is to arm you with practical tips and insights to help you navigate the complex landscape of college life. From managing studies and assignments to engaging in extracurricular activities, we’ll guide you through every step.

    Portrait of a Female College Student

    Adjusting to Academic Demands

    In the journey of college life, mastering the art of time management is crucial for academic and personal success. Effective time management not only leads to high academic performance but also contributes to good physical health and lower stress levels. This is particularly significant in higher education, where students face the challenge of managing their time without the supervision they might have had in secondary school.

    • Importance of Time Management and Organization in Handling Coursework
      • Time management is a pivotal skill that enhances productivity and helps students better perform in exams and meet deadlines.
      • Effective utilization of time requires good planning and organizational skills, such as planning a digital calendar, keeping time logs, setting academic goals, and prioritizing tasks.
    • Tips for Effective Note-Taking and Study Habits
      • Developing a study schedule that aligns with your learning style can significantly improve information retention and understanding.
      • Forming study groups and utilizing online resources and learning management systems can enrich the learning experience.
    • The Value of Participating in Class Discussions and Seeking Help
      • Engaging in class discussions enhances understanding and retention of course materials.
      • Seeking help, whether through professors during office hours or through peer study groups, is vital for clarifying doubts and deepening understanding.
    • Balancing Academic Responsibilities with Personal Life
      • Balancing studies with personal life, including extracurricular activities, part-time jobs, and campus events is essential for a well-rounded college experience.
      • Maintaining this balance promotes a healthy work-life balance, crucial for mental and physical well-being.

    Tutor works with college student

    In conclusion, effective time management is not just about academic achievement; it’s about cultivating a lifestyle that allows college students to thrive both in their studies and personal life, ultimately leading to a more fulfilling and successful college journey.

    Tips to Overcome the Challenges of College Life

    Perhaps, sharing a room with a 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 campus life. It will take a period of time for you to acclimate to the aspects of college life and become comfortable with this new chapter in your life. So don’t think that everything will fall into place on the first day of school. Here are a few tips to help you make a smooth college transition and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

    College Student Studying

    • Get to know the college 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 make it easy to develop unhealthy eating habits. Be mindful of your college meal plan and make food choices that you feel are best for you.
    • Make time for regular exercise. Moving your body can help you with managing stress, anxiety, and depression. You don’t have to go to the gym to reap the benefits of physical activity. 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 and mental health challenges. You must be getting proper sleep to be alert and productive. Lack of sleep can impact your memory, mood, and 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 college tutors, the writing center, study sessions, and professors’ office hours. If you have a disability, register with the Disability Resource Center to arrange for accommodations. Planning 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. You and your roommate need 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 fellow students 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 and engage in social activities. You may just gain a lifelong friend.

    College Student Walking to Campus

    Seeking Support When Needed

    The college experience is not just about academics; it encompasses a wide range of activities, relationships, and personal growth opportunities.

    Balancing the demands of college classes, extracurricular activities, part-time jobs, and social life requires not just time management, but emotional resilience. Colleges and universities recognize this and typically have counseling centers, health centers, and other resources dedicated to supporting the mental health and well-being of their students.

    In conclusion, students need to know that it’s okay to seek help when feeling overwhelmed. Whether it’s adjusting to the demanding classes, managing a healthy work-life balance, or dealing with personal life challenges, there is always support available.

    The therapist’s office is a safe space where students can explore their feelings, discuss their challenges, and find ways to manage the complexities of college life. Remember, reaching out for help is a sign of strength, not weakness, and it’s a vital step toward achieving success and well-being in college.

    Explore the Benefits of Counseling for College Students.

    Whether you’re a first-time student, a returning student, or a parent, the beginning of the college school year can be difficult.

    As therapists with many years of experience working with college students, we understand the unique challenges and pressures of this life stage. We offer an empathetic and supportive environment where students can seek guidance and support as they navigate this new journey.

    We’ll be glad to help you on your new journey. Contact us today!

    Please include the name of the staff person and location preference if applicable.