Going to college can be stressful. You’re leaving behind everything you know – your school, friends, family, and home, and going someplace new where you will be expected to make new friends and set your own priorities. You will be making many big changes in a brief period of time.
Knowing what to expect can be extremely helpful. Generally, you should know the following:
College courses are at a higher level than high-school classes. The material may be presented at a faster pace. Professors often assign more reading and writing than you are probably used to. Give yourself a chance to adjust gradually to the increased academic demands. Opt for a course load that includes some challenging classes and others that will be less intense. If you find yourself falling behind, contact your college’s academic assistance center for help.
You are responsible for managing your time. If you cut class and don’t do your work, no one will nag you. Buy a calendar and write down when and where your classes meet, when assignments are due, and when tests are scheduled. Give yourself sufficient time to study rather than waiting until the last minute. While the occasional all-nighter may be necessary, it shouldn’t be a common occurrence.
You probably will not have the same day-to-day support that you have now. How will you manage your money? Who will make sure you’re not getting sick? Factors like stress, late-nights, and pushing yourself too hard can take its toll. Make smart decisions – Learn about budgeting, get enough sleep, eat well, and pay attention to what your body tells you.
New social opportunities and pressures will surround you. You have the opportunity to recreate yourself in any way you choose. Remember, true friendships are formed slowly. Be friendly and try new things responsibly. If you’re unsure about participating in certain social scenes or activities, seek guidance about ways to resist pressures. There are a lot of social opportunities in college – you will find activities and people who are like-minded. Put yourself out there and take advantage of the many opportunities presented to you.
Get familiar with the campus. Early in the semester, visit the following places so you know where they are: Library, Bookstore, Cafeterias, Public Safety, Advisors, Registration, Financial Aid, Student Union, Health Center, and the Recreation Center. Know where your classes are held and where your Professor’s offices are located. Familiarize yourself with your dorm facilities. At the very least, you’ll need to know where the laundry, mailboxes, and cafeteria are.
College campuses are full of resources—professors, counselors, and resident advisors just to name a few. It is up to you to ask for help if you need it. Colleges offer tutors, disability assistance, academic counselors, health centers, advisors, job placement, counselors of all kinds and many other services. You are paying for these services out of your tuition. Utilize them if you need to.
You may find that you are not able to study in your room – maybe your dorm is noisy or your roommate is difficult. Whatever the reason, there are plenty of places on campus to study. Try the library, the study lounge in your dorm, or the union. It might be to your advantage to establish a study schedule. Ideally, you should spend two hours studying outside of class for every hour you spend in class.
Try be more outgoing that you normally would. Over the first couple of days, meet and talk the people in your dorm for a few minutes. Take part in group and dorm activities. Talk to the people in your classes. Knowing people in your classes can be very advantageous if you have to miss class for any reason. Think about joining a campus or community organization or volunteering. Getting involved and meeting people is a great cure for homesickness.
While academic endeavors should be a priority, your life outside of class is also important. You’ll have a lot of obligations: classes and course work, social activities, recreation/relaxation, and work. Make sure you balance these activities. Your academic demands may mean that you spend a lot of time studying, but try to also make time for other things. You’ll be much less stressed out if you do.
Remember, more than anything else, you are responsible for yourself and your actions now. You’ve been given the opportunity to make choices that contribute to your well-being and your future plans. Make good choices.
Have something to say? Feel free to add comments or additional information.