Change isn’t always easy. Transitioning from high school to college is one of the biggest transitions a young adult goes through, and it can come along with a lot of challenges. Whether you’re continuing to live at home and going to a local community college or moving across the country to a far away university, you’ll still be dealing with some of the same challenges that come along with starting this new chapter of life.
If you don’t know how to cope with change or transitions, it can be easy to get caught up in stress and negativity. To make your transition a little bit smoother, we have 5 tips for you to tackle the transition to college.
Be Aware of Your School’s Resources
Your college likely has loads of resources to help you transition into college life and succeed throughout your years there. At the beginning of the semester, get familiar with what your school offers. Learn what kind of services are available at the health center and mental health counseling centers. You never know when you might need them!
And if you know that you’re not as inclined to reach out for help when you need it, especially mental health help, online therapy may be a convenient solution. You’ll have a licensed therapist available to share your struggles, anytime, anywhere — no matter what comes up during this big transition.
You should also check out what kind of tutoring is available. A lot of schools have free tutoring centers and writing centers for help with studying, homework, essays, and more. If you’re living in the dorms, your RA can be a resource for general advice and knowledge of social events. You can even look at extracurricular clubs as resources for both personal and professional growth! Being aware of the resources your school offers will prepare you know where to get help when you need it, or where to direct your friends when they need help. All these resources are there just for you and your peers, so don’t hesitate to use them.
Find Your People
Being a college freshman, you’re among loads of people in the same boat as you. Everyone’s new and looking to make friends. While it can be a little nerve wracking put yourself out there, you’ll be glad you did. Is your RA hosting a game night for your hall? Go to it! Is there a club that caters to one of your hobbies? Join it! Is there a club sports team for a sport you used to play in high school? Play it! Can you plan a special dinner to get to know your roommate and suite-mates? Plan it! Can you form a study group with some classmates in a difficult class? Form it!
Taking the initiative to be outgoing and make new connections will be rewarding. The more people you meet and connect with, the easier it will be to find your people. That said, it can also be comforting to stay in touch with friends and family from home. Just because you’re making a bunch of new friends it doesn’t mean you can’t keep the old ones! You can even plan fun activities or get-togethers during your school breaks when you’ll be back home so you all have something to look forward to.
Have a Self Care Game Plan
How will you take care of yourself when you’re away? For most people, college is the first time they’re breaking away from parents and living at home. A brand new routine can shake things up and cause a roller coaster of emotions. Keep negative thoughts and stress at bay by having a self-care game plan. Make a list that you can reference easily of things you can do to stay healthy both mentally and physically. For example, you might list exercise, journaling, and Facetiming a friend back home as some things you can do when you’re feeling stressed. Other self-care tools you’ll want to think about are getting enough sleep, eating well, and simply allowing yourself to take a break when you need one.
Remember That Grades Aren’t Everything
Of course, academics are a priority in college and you’ll want to try your best to do well in school, but there’s a lot more to life than striving for a 4.0 GPA. College is all about balance. Find time not only for studying but also for enjoying yourself. Studying 24/7 will send you on the highway to burnout, and that’s not something you want happening in your first semester. Make time to hang out with friends, try out extra curricular activities, and of course, make time for yourself and self-care.
If you’re struggling with your grades, don’t beat yourself up. Instead of pulling all nighters in the library, use your resources! Talk to your professor, attend office hours, go to the tutoring center, and form study groups. Also, when it comes to signing up for classes, don’t bite off more than you can chew. Have a chat with an academic advisor to determine which classes will be the best for you without burning you out.
Have Realistic Expectations — Or Nix Them All Together
There are so many expectations surrounding college from academic performance to social lives that you might’ve created yourself or have been created by society, media, or your parents. You might be going into college expecting to immediately be besties with your roommate, ace your classes, attend wild parties, and become a part of Greek life. Instead, try to live in the moment and have realistic expectations. When things don’t go the way you thought they would, go with the flow. Remember that when things aren’t going as smoothly as you thought they would, it’s normal to struggle. Things aren’t always going to be easy or perfect — and that’s okay. You might end up switching roommates, joining clubs you never thought you’d join, changing your major, or even transferring schools. All of this is okay. College is a learning experience, in and out of the classroom. Let go of expectations and allow your unique college journey to unfold.
Follow these tips and you’ll be on your way to a smooth transition. And hey, even if it’s a not-so-smooth transition, hang in there. You’ll get through it. Here’s to your next 4 years!
Talkspace articles are written by experienced mental health-wellness contributors; they are grounded in scientific research and evidence-based practices. Articles are extensively reviewed by our team of clinical experts (therapists and psychiatrists of various specialties) to ensure content is accurate and on par with current industry standards.
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