Off to College: Settling In

Off to College: Settling In
  • Opening Intro -

    You're back on campus or you're off to college for the first time.

    Your transition from summer break to the fall semester is over and you're now settling in.

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Within the next few days you’ll be starting classes, buying books, reviewing the semester’s class requirements and meeting new friends. If you’re already settled in at college, then this article isn’t for you. But, if you’re feeling anxious, uncomfortable or homesick, then read on for some tips on how to settle in.

1. Give it some time. Your feelings are valid, but they’re certainly not set in stone. A new environment or even a familiar environment with different people present can make anyone feel uneasy. Share your feelings with a friend, a sibling, your resident advisor or your parents.

2. Manage your contacts. You may find yourself contacting family members and long-time friends frequently during the first few weeks that you’re on campus. This is a normal response, but you should work toward reducing your phone calls and text messages, and increasing your emails, with an eye toward focusing on sharing what you’ve learned and experienced at college so far.

3. Reach out to others. Loneliness may not disappear immediately, but those feelings can be alleviated by reaching out to other people. Chances are you’ll meet at least one other person that wouldn’t mind your friendship. Spend time talking over lunch, visiting a different building on campus or taking in a sporting event together.

4. Make your dorm room your home. Your dorm room is your new home, at least for this semester, likely for the academic year. Your section of the room is all yours, so decorate it the way that you want it to look. Put out pictures of family members and pets, and other objects that remind you of home.

5. Plan your next trip home. Your first chance to return home may not happen until Thanksgiving recess. Begin planning your trip by finding out about ride sharing or some other way of getting home. Just making plans can help you look forward to see you family and friends again, reducing the feelings of homesickness you now have.

6. Visit your college’s counseling center. Your resident or college advisor may refer you to the college’s counseling center if he or she is not able to help you out. Take this referral as a positive sign that your adviser wants you to get the best help possible. Not everyone feels equipped to help a person going through a difficult time, while your college’s counseling center is staffed by experienced and trained professionals that are willing and able to provide some help.

7. Stay focused and avoid rash decisions. Students can make adjusting to college even more difficult by participating in behaviors that are detrimental to their well-being. These include drinking in excess, overeating, becoming sexually involved with another student, skipping classes or excessive sleeping. Seek help if you find that your behavior is difficult to control.

Considerations

Some students adjust immediately when they leave for college. Others may find it can take a semester or two before feeling fully settled in. Stay focused, but give yourself a break and realize your feelings are entirely valid.

Sources

Allegheny College: Suggestions for Coping With Homesickness

University of Wisconsin-EauClair Counseling Services: Overcoming Homesickness

College Financing reference:

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