Life on campus is far different from what you experienced at home and you are now enjoying your new-found independence and the change of scenery.
Your euphoria is understandable, but it will not last. For many students the change is a gradual one as you attend your classes and keep up with your studies. For others, the change is quite dramatic and may be accompanied by a host of feelings and behaviors to include: anxiety, sleeplessness, binge eating, alcohol abuse and depression. For students in the latter group, taking action to address these problems is necessary. Indeed, if you do not recognize the struggles you are facing, you may find yourself flunking out of school before your freshman year is done. Read on for some tips on how to manage college once the excitement dies.
Manage Your Expectations
Life is a cycle. You will have your ups and you will have your downs — these changes are normal and is what everyone experiences. For most people their ups and downs are not terribly extreme in part because they have learned to manage their expectations.
Managing your expectations does not mean that you do not enjoy the good times as they come. Instead, they’re handled with care as you realize that your feelings as well as your circumstances will change. People handle disappointment best by looking ahead to better times. You may have quickly learned that not all friendships pan out, that your class schedule is heavier than you expected or you simply miss your family.
Order Your Priorities
With so much “new” to experience, you may find yourself overwhelmed by it all. You’re not just attending classes and studying, but your social life has mushroomed tremendously. Football games, clubs, parties and a variety of special events may have consumed much of your free time.
This is where you need to step back and assess what you are doing. Although the social part of your college experience is important it must never affect your educational pursuits. Your priority must be your education; keeping everything in order will help you stay focused and balanced. You also need to eat right, get enough sleep and exercise.
Ask For Help
A sudden change in your feelings may point to an underlying medical condition. Be honest with yourself: if you are stressed out, behaving erratically or otherwise not being the “you” everyone knows, then it may be time to visit your college’s student health clinic.
The clinic is a good place for you to meet with a professional who can hear your complaints and provide assistance. Clinics include counselors, professionals that will recognize your struggle and offer a solution.
Let Your Parents Know
Your parents are heavily invested in your life including your college education. Although you are an adult your parents most likely are paying your way.
Some students are hesitant to share with their parents their struggles. They may wait so long that their parents never know about these problems until they are dismissed from school or face some other personal crisis. Be honest with your family about your struggles and lean on them for guidance and support.
Speak With Your Academic Advisor
Getting help from a school counselor and telling your parents about your struggles is important. Another professional to speak with is your college advisor. This person is the one that will help you as you work your way through school. He or she has a vested interest in your education, but should also know what struggles you are facing.
Your advisor may offer some other suggestions on how to manage life at college. This person may recommend an immediate change in your schedule to help lighten your class load. That recommendation would be based on what your advisor has seen with other students in your situation. This person understands that deep struggles may best be handled through intervention, to prevent a challenging problem from becoming worse.
Staying the Course
College retention rates have fallen at many schools as freshmen students fail to return for their sophomore year. The reasons students quit may vary, but may include not addressing challenges that appear soon after setting foot on campus. Nearly half of all college students never complete their degree according to Think Progress. By asking for help you can increase the odds that you will complete your education.
See Also — 12 Foundational Tips for College Freshmen