Sarah Hanslin and Aliana Lockett, Interns
Congratulations, you did it! You graduated high school! You may now be thinking, how am I starting college already? While the transition into college is exciting and leads to new adventures, many people can experience anxiety and stress over the unknown of what the next chapter of their life may ensue.
Transitioning into College: Tips and Tools for Transitioning into a new school year and Lifestyle
Remember, you are never alone and this is common for anyone. It can take time to settle into a new environment and find a routine that works for you. It is difficult to start on a blank slate when there is a life at home you were used to when growing up and coming into your own.
College is supposed to be thrilling, enjoyable and lead to new opportunities and memories you will keep with you until you grow old. However, when first starting off, there may be hardships you face, and you may need support from others. Anyone on campus can be a resource, especially upperclassmen who have experienced what you are going through. Do not be afraid to reach out and ask questions, as they are there to help you feel at home and guide you in the right direction.
To begin, many of the hardships people face when transitioning into college revolve around homesickness. While friends and family are a phone call away, the feeling is still real and can negatively impact our college experience if something is not done to take away the unsettling feeling. Maybe you will never experience homesickness, but it is a normal part of transitioning into adulthood, even after college.
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The key to dealing with this is maintaining old relationships while making new ones. While it may be difficult to put yourself out there in a new crowd of strangers, going to any event that is hosted by the school can help you meet new friends and connections to help with an easier transition. It may be out of your comfort zone to go to events, but that is where connections can begin and form. You may see people already have a group of friends and question how they found a group of people so quickly and you don’t but do not be discouraged.
It can and most likely take time to find the right fit and often the people you meet first may not end up being the people you stay friends with, but it is a great start to not feel alone and open up new borders to your social skills. There will be club fairs and ways to get involved on campus; go to them! There are so many opportunities to meet new people who have similar interests as you. Another way to meet new people is through Greek Life. Not every university offers it, but if you think it is something you are interested in, it is a great way to meet like-minded people and friendships!
While many people enjoy their roommate and have them be their first friend, it is also important to consider this may not be the case and that your roommate is just someone you share a space with and co-exist with. A roommate(s) can make or break the experience you have. Everyone has different schedules, interests, mannerisms, hygiene, etc, and it is important to be mindful of yourself and also of the people you share a room with.
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If you find that there are problems at any point in the semester, be sure to address them and talk about your concerns so they do not continue. If you find yourself uncomfortable and not making progress with your roommate, then it may be time to contact your RA to further address the issues you are having. Your RA’s want you to be happy and feel comfortable, so if you do not feel this way, they are a source for you in any way possible whether it is a roommate problem or just someone to talk to when you need advice or help. As someone who has changed roommates and dorm situations a few times, remember there is no shame in doing so. During my freshman year, I moved out of my first room in regard to building a relationship with my current roommate. We built a friendship very quickly from the start of the year and realized our lifestyles fit better and we were able to make the change.
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It was the best decision I made for myself as she is someone I could not imagine doing college without. She has been my rock and support through the hardships and excitement of these past 3 years. Do not hesitate to reach out and contact your RA or Residence Hall Director if you feel out of place or have problems with a roommate situation, it truly can change your experience for the better.
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To share a little advice from someone who had already experienced freshman year of college, most people no longer have friends or family to rely on and that can be a very isolating feeling initially in a new school and even a different state! The good news is that everyone is in the same boat as you!
The educational environment will be an adjustment as well, having realistic expectations is helpful to adjust. There are no longer small classrooms of 20 kids, but now can be up to 600 people per class depending on your school. MAKE TIME FOR YOU! Ensuring there is still “you” time can also be a struggle. Having new friends is exciting, and the pressure to assimilate into your new environment can be intense. It is important to tell yourself that you do not have to partake in every social event and stay out late all the time. Self care and boundaries are crucial for your mental health!
This new chapter of your life is a once in a lifetime experience, although it comes with changes, and some challenges there are so many opportunities to grow, have fun, and get to know yourself. You will have experiences you never thought you would have before.
We will leave you with this….there will be academic, social, and physical activities and opportunities right at your fingertips. While it can be stressful it can also be one of the most substatial experiences of your life.
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For example, I am currently going into my junior year writing this post as an Intern, I am preparing to spend an entire semester in Florence, Italy where I take classes and spend time with all of my friends all through my school! That is just one example of all the things you can get involved in and expand socially, which in turn can be fantastic for your mental health and make you see the world in a different way.
Here are the takeaways: Be open minded, take care of yourself, perform to your best ability academically, use your resources and ask for help! If you are reading this as an incoming freshman going to college know that it is exciting and goes by FAST! As current Juniors and Seniors we are reflecting on how quickly it has all flown by.
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It feels like yesterday I was packing up my room, shopping for decorations, and setting up my dorm for the first time. Make sure to cherish every moment because it is truly one of the best times of your life that you will look back on forever!
Good luck on this next chapter of your life, and remember you are capable of anything you set and put your mind to!