Cleared for Takeoff: Tips for Managing the First Few Weeks of College
The first few weeks of college are uniquely exciting . . . and stressful. Luckily, there are proven ways to ease your transition so you can launch into your college years with optimism and confidence. Here we’ve gathered some or our best advice from years of counseling and thousands of college students.
This is first on the list because it is so important. The best way to adjust to any new environment is through action and connection. So, colleges offer an unbelievable number of clubs and activities to help students connect and be engaged with one another and the school. Theater, sports, gaming, nationality clubs, science, research, philanthropy, writing, art, music, the list goes on and on. In fact, in the first few weeks of school, most colleges will set up tables around campus where you can learn more about and sign up for clubs and groups. Do it.
Know that you are not alone.
If you are feeling scared, lonely, unsure, homesick— you are not alone! One of the great things about college is that you’re not the only “new kid at school.” Every freshman on campus is going through the same transition and likely feeling a lot of the same feelings that you are. So, talk to people, be honest, try to be the person who makes other people feel comfortable. Sometimes the best way to get over your own feelings of anxiety is to help someone else with theirs.
Be where your feet are AKA – limit social media
It can be hard to focus on creating a new life where you are, if you keep seeing images of the “great time” your high school friends are having somewhere else. As hard as it is, try to limit your exposure to social media images. These images are curated to show you only the “best” moments. Focus on YOUR surroundings, YOUR experience, the people right in front of YOU.
Go. To. Class.
This advice is simple. Get out of bed. Get to class. Unlike any schooling that you’ve had before, attendance in many college classes is not mandatory. At some big schools, the classes are simply too large to track attendance, and nobody is going to tell your mom and dad that you skipped a class. So, it is entirely up to you to get to yourself to class. While it can be tempting to take advantage of your newfound anonymity, do not do it. Beyond the simple fact that you’re wasting the investment of time and money in your own future, you also risk falling behind or failing. Another great reason to go to class? It is a great way to meet new people and start forging new friendships.
Find a study zone and focus
While it is ok to study in your room, dorm life can make it hard to focus. Seek out study spaces where you can block out distractions. Aside from the library, many schools have quiet spaces speckled across campus. Also, put your phone on silent mode and focus on the work you have to do.
Seek connection with advisors and professors
Advisors, professors, and teaching assistants are all invested in your success. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help, ask a question, go to office hours.
Establish healthy habits
They’re called “healthy habits” for a reason. Eat right. Exercise. Get enough sleep. Each of these can be challenged with college’s unstructured schedule and limitless dining options. Do your best to choose healthy options in the dining hall, schedule a workout or two throughout the week (consider joining a club or intramural team), and have a goal for going to sleep at night. Also, don’t give up any healthy habits that helped you handle the stresses of high school, such as meditation, journaling, art, any healthy choice that helps you relax and unwind.
The first few weeks of college are an adjustment. Give yourself some grace. Be friendly, organized, and don’t give up the healthy, disciplined choices that made it possible for you to have the kind of success it takes to get to college.