Every major change in your life is a stressor and requires adjustment, even the good stuff. Moving from high school to college is an exciting time in life. Whether you are going across town or across the country, there is a transition to living in a new place. You may be too busy having fun to check in, but mom and dad are going to miss you and want to know what and how you are doing. Find a way to stay in contact that works for everyone, be it calls, texts, Facebook, or Twitter. While some students call their parents at 3 a.m. when studying and activities are complete, not all parents would be as happy as pleased with this arrangement. So find a time that’s ideal for both of you, and remember, if you don’t answer their calls, they will keep calling.
Your adjustment will go more smoothly if you give yourself time to join your new community. Give yourself a month or so before you visit home. Keep in contact with people from home who will support you, but don’t forget to participate in your new environment.
Start Somewhere. If you are an athlete, you may have the opportunity to start working out with the team even prior to the rest of the students moving to campus. Sports is just one way to meet people based on common interests. Most campuses offer a plethora of activities, groups, intramurals, and clubs. Put yourself where the action is; one Twitter friend shared that he was asked to join a group playing video games while he was watching others play.
Get Oriented. Even if it seems cheesy, take part in orientation activities. You will not only become familiar with the layout and locations of campus, but you will learn about the institution and community and meet other new students at the same time.
Get Paid. Getting an on-campus job as a tour guide can help you manage the financial burden of school while learning the layout of campus. Consider a variety of other campus jobs available to students, too.
Embrace the New You. The traditional college student, developmentally, is working on creating a unique identity. Even non-traditional students are evolving as they take on a new field of study. Now is not the time to go with the crowd. Be true to you. Try new things. Study abroad. Major in art if you want to; it may be wise for career and parental relationships to choose a second major though. Take classes that are interesting, even if they don’t fit your requirements. Not to sound too old, but you have years (the rest of your life) to stick to a path and achieve, says the person that made all the responsible choices and plugged through degress, experience, licensure, and career…I would do it differently. Do what makes you happy and helps you meet your goals, which may mean skipping some all nighters at the coffee house…or may mean sacrificing sleep.
Live Healthy. Just remember that lack of sleep and late night eating are major contributors to the infamous “freshman 15.” Luckily, healthy food, exercise, and sleep are all great stress reducers and can make any transition happier. (You’ll learn more, too!). Take advantage of the school’s workout center, join an intramural team, or start a program on your own. Pay attention to what you are eating and drinking.
Friend the Roommate. Living with someone new can be a challenge, even if you know them already; but you may not know your first roommate. Be polite and considerate, remembering the golden rule. Don’t use their things or borrow their clothes without receiving expressed permission. If you’re the first one up, don’t hit snooze. If you’re the last one to bed, come in quietly. Make sure you communicate; face to face communication is always better than leaving notes. If you have a lot of conflicts, an RA may be able to help you mediate or make a change.
A Twitter friend stated that the most difficult part of transitioning is learning balance, moderation, and making purposeful choices in the face of so many new opportunities and freedoms. Overdoing anything or not considering consequences will only add to the stress though.
By Brooke Randolph, LMHC for EduInReview.com