Take Some Time to Adjust to College

Give yourself time to adjust to college. You don’t have to figure everything out during your first week, month or even year. Don’t expect to immediately know the solution to every challenge.

Get used to not being the best at everything. Other students may be just as smart as you, if not smarter. But, just because someone shows off in class doesn’t mean they are smarter than you. If they are really smart, however, make friends with them. They can help you understand the class material. They need your friendship, too.

What To Do If You Get Homesick

Everybody feels some anxiety about leaving home for college. Here are a few ideas for dealing with homesickness.

  • Bring something from home to make the dorm room feel a little like home.
  • Stay in touch with family and friends. Your parents may be having a difficult time with you away from home. They may suffer from separation anxiety and feel left out. But, don’t let them smother you. Hourly or daily phone calls and text messages are too much. Schedule a weekly time to talk. In between these check-ins, take notes about what you want to tell them.
  • College can be lonely, so make new friends.
  • Talk with the resident advisor in the dorm. They are there to help you adjust. They often plan fun activities for dorm residents, bake cookies and schedule social events.

Parents can help with homesickness by sending care packages periodically.

Make New Friends in College

The key to making new friends in college is to meet people. You won’t meet your fellow students if you hide out in your dorm room.

So, go out and meet people. Introduce yourself to other students on your dorm floor. Just say “hi” to them. Participate in clubs, activities and sports. Join a study group. Participate in on-campus events. Eat in the campus dining room, not in your dorm room.

Go to the student activity fair to learn about the clubs and other activities on campus. Try new things.

Learn Good Time Management Skills

The first step to good time management skills is to track your time commitments by getting organized.

  • List your classes, exams and other obligations in a calendar or planner. Use the calendar on your smartphone, a printed calendar, or a set of index cards.
  • Create to-do lists, but keep them short. Tackle quick items first, to give yourself a sense of accomplishment.
  • Try to arrange a regular schedule. Even simple things, like making your bed in the morning every day can get you off to a good start.
  • Set aside time for relaxing and for chores.
  • Know your limits. If you are not a morning person, don’t choose early morning classes.

Once you have set a schedule, don’t procrastinate. Don’t browse the web or social media when studying. Turn off your phone to limit the temptation. Start assignments the day they are assigned. Do not wait until the last minute.

Health and Safety

With college comes a sense of freedom, where you don’t have someone else telling you what to do. You make your own decisions, but you also suffer the consequences from bad decisions.

Try to set a few simple rules for yourself.

  • Do something positive at the start of each day.
  • Eat a healthy diet with some fruit and vegetables.
  • Take time to exercise every day.
  • Keep your room clean. Do your laundry. While in college, your parents aren’t going to clean up after you or do your laundry.
  • Use a buddy system when walking around campus after dark or on weekends. Walk with a friend. Use the campus escort service.
  • Get enough sleep. Go to bed at the same time every day.
  • Don't party too much.
  • Avoid drugs and alcohol.

With this newfound freedom comes the need for self-advocacy. You will need to take action on your own when you need help.

Focus on Academics

Prioritize academics. First and foremost, you are going to college to get an education, not to party. College is expensive, so make the most of it.

  • Classes may be more demanding than what you were used to in high school. You will have to stay on top of assignments and study for exams. You will have a heavier academic workload, even though you spend less time sitting in a classroom.
  • Do not miss class, no matter what the reason.
  • Do the readings before class, instead of afterward. Take notes on the readings. This will help you understand the lectures better.
  • Take good notes in class, but don’t try to write down every word. Most people speak at about 200 words per minute, but write or type at 30-60 words per minute. So, you have only enough time to capture the highlights. Plus, if you focus on writing down everything the professor says, you aren’t really paying attention to the lecture.
  • Transcribe your notes every night. Not only will this make them easier to read, but rewriting them will help you remember the material. Resolve any confusion as you transcribe your notes.
  • Take advantage of professor and teaching assistant (TA) office hours. This is a great opportunity to ask questions about the lectures or go beyond the lectures.
  • Identify a place to study on campus for when your dorm is too noisy or distracting. This can be a lounge or the library. Mute or turn off your phone when you are studying.
  • Ask for help when you need it.

Study every day. But, don’t study all the time. Build some fun into your schedule.