It’s that time of year. Back to school may feel like a month away but for college students, it is right around the corner. This can be a time of excitement, new adventures, and so much personal growth. Simultaneously, the transition to college is nothing to take lightly — especially for those who are leaving home for the first time.
If going to college has you anxious, you are not alone. Nearly two-thirds of students in your position report feeling anxiety. Almost one-quarter of them seek professional care. This is serious business so please ask for help if you need it.
Some of the Challenges of Going to College
- Academic pressures: The comfort zone of high school is no longer present.
- Living up to parental expectations: Even the best-intentioned parents can provoke more anxiety than they realize.
- Financial issues: Have you seen the cost of college — and cost of living — lately?
- Feeling homesick: Independence sounds perfect… until it’s not.
- Making friends: Social anxiety can rear its ugly head.
- Dating: This is yet another situation that can sound more fun in theory than in practice
No matter how you slice it, this leads to pressure from all directions. Sure, this can help a young adult prepare for the rat race but is that what we’re really aiming to do? Instead, let’s offer some helpful advice.
First: Take Advantage of the Resources Available to You
Every college campus will make valuable mental health resources available to its students. You do not need to suffer in silence. Also, there is no need to wait. If you feel the transition starting to get to you, ask for help. The sooner you seek support, the less overwhelmed and anxious you’ll get. But, at the same time, there are self-help steps you can take to ease the anxiety.
3 More Tips For Making the Transition to College Easier
1. Prepare in Advance
Learn some basic but crucial life skills. You may or may not have done much housework, cooking, shopping, and laundry at home. So, give yourself a crash course. These chores can feel a lot less daunting with a little prep work.
While you’re at it, familiarize yourself with where you will be living. If possible, make some low-key visits to get a feel for the general vicinity. Learn the weather patterns so you can pack the right clothes. Buy your textbooks early. Inquire about what technology is available. Ask about tutoring options. Take these kinds of seemingly minor steps to avoid having things pile up as the pressure hits.
2. Create a Contact Plan With Friends and Family
Do not allow yourself to be left feeling isolated. This is not to say that you spend all your time video-chatting with Mom or your BFF. But you don’t have to cold turkey either. Ease into the process by scheduling regular chats and pep talks from the people who love you the most.
As you do this, you can also join the college’s Facebook page and begin connecting with potential new friends. Lay the groundwork for a smoother transition than you may be fearing.
3. Practice Self-Care
Create a daily regimen that will help you build resilience for those moments when you feel the walls closing in. Safeguard your sleep patterns. Make healthy eating choices. It’s okay to party — a little. Pace yourself. Be sure to get in exercise and physical activity each day. Develop a routine of stress management and relaxation techniques.
And remember: If you feel better seeking help off-campus, therapy is a powerful option. Let’s talk. I’m here to help you make this exciting transition as positive as possible!