First-Year College Students and Adjustment to Being Away at School

First-Year College Students and Adjustment to Being Away at School

October 19, 2015 Psychotherapy 0
first-year college students

Most kids cannot wait to go away to college. They are eager to have additional freedom. However, such changes can cause a number of first-year college students to have trouble adjusting to school.

Recent statistics indicate that 30% of college students feel so depressed at one point or another that they felt it was difficult to function. That is not acceptable. So this article focuses on strategies to help college students navigate such a major transition.

first-year college students

Strategies for First-Year College Students To Adjust to School

1. College demands are overwhelming- For years professionals have stated that the demands put on college students can be enormous, particularly new students who are not prepared for the onslaught that college brings.

A combination of factors including academic as well as social pressures combined with a new level of freedom create the perfect storm.

2. Academic stress- Let’s focus a little more on academics for a minute. That is the reason why most students go to college after all.

According to a report last year, 33% of students felt stress affected their academic performance. While some level of stress will always exist in life, it is important that stress does not reach the proportions where it impacts students’ grades.

Keep in mind the following recommendations when attempting to combat academic stress.

First, attend all classes. As obvious as this may sound, a recent poll by Brown University 25% of students skip classes at least once per week.

If you are skipping classes, you are causing yourself the added stress of having to catch up on material you did not learn the first time.

Second, be prepared to learn new skills.  Remember, you are attending a higher learning institution. This means you probably do not have all the learning skills you need to succeed immediately.

Be prepared to learn new ones so you can succeed over time. Many students fall behind their first semester because they are not sure how to succeed.

Third, discover time management. As kids our schedule was structured by our parents. Therefore, it is no surprise that so many students experience anxiety when they go to college. You are finally free to make your own decisions and schedule your own time. That also means you now have to be responsible for your actions and for how you spend that time.

So learn to manage your time effectively.

3. Life intervenes- Another common distraction for students is the added responsibilities outside of academics.

The Community College Survey of Student Engagement surveyed 22 community colleges. They discovered that 47% of students currently work more than 20 hours per week in addition to their required studies.

With the rising cost of tuition, this puts an ever-increasing burden on students to pay their own way through school.

Take California State University student Isabella Galeazi. The 18 year old college student juggles a job at McDonalds, a musical production internship, and a full course load. In her own words, she sometimes feels “snowed under.”

With student loans approaching $1 trillion, we are seeing another negative side effect: the growing frayed nerves of many talented young people.

To prevent this, make sure you schedule some time each week to take a break from your commitments. Otherwise, you could burn out.

4. Missing Family and Friends- We already emphasized that college is a time of new-found freedom. However, it also can be a time of loneliness.

This is the first time many students are away from their parents and loved ones. Often freshmen leave behind high school sweethearts. Additionally, they miss birthdays, holiday celebrations, and other traditions that defined childhood.

Therefore, it is only natural to experience loneliness.

To combat that, it is vitally important to build a strong social network in college. Many college students do this, but more often than not today’s students have such a heavy workload that they do not spend enough time cultivating this network.

5. Health- Finally, college students need to stay healthy. A few too many late nights combined with haphazard eating habits can do damage not only physically, but mentally as well.

For example, only 11% of all college students feel well rested. This is a staggering statistic when you consider how much pressure they face on a daily basis.

Simply getting more sleep and eating properly can have a huge impact on improving their health.

Final Thoughts

Your first year in college can be an amazing time in your life. A time of growth, relationships, and experiences. However, if you are struggling with your emotions during this time it can take away from this experience.

Therefore, if you need to talk to someone feel free to give our office a call at 847-824-8366.


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