Heading out to college is probably one of the most exciting transitions you will experience. You are essentially taking the momentous step across the threshold from a dependent child of your parents to a relatively independent adult. Therefore it is invariably an exhilarating time. So much so that sometimes it can spill over into full-blown stress: stress from the expectations, the uncertainties and the prospect of having to adapt to so many new variables in your life, all from one day to another. So how can one keep a healthy perspective on the entire experience?
1. You’re not the only one. Remember that you will be joined by dozens, if not hundreds, of new classmates that will be just as disoriented, confused and insecure as you on the first day.
2. You are unique. Yet, among all the ‘newbies’ never forget that you are unique and your life experiences have served you well. You will be surprised to find just how many skills you already have you will be putting to good use in college. Everything from word-processing to maths skills to perhaps organizational skills to study habits. You may even find yourself teaching your roommates how to use the laundry machine! Each one of you brings something valuable to the table. So have the confidence to share what you know and the humility to learn from your peers.
3. Every knows you haven’t done this before. Putting all the smothering expectations aside, all your relatives and professors know you’ve never been to college before! you will probably stumble and fall a few times and it will take you time to get your bearings, and that’s okay. As a first-year student, you are entitled to a few second chances. So don’t forget to give yourself some.
4. Never forget that there is ALWAYS a solution to every problem. No matter how overwhelming your coursework or the distance from home might feel, no matter how close to failing out of college after two months you might get or how lonely you might feel before the first holiday away from home, never forget that there is always a better option than to feel sorry for yourself. When facing academic hardship always talk to your professor sooner rather than later, they will likely point you in the right direction to find help. They’ve probably been doing this since you were in primary school and you are most definitely not the first student they meet who has had a problem. There are office hours, Teaching Assistants, extra credit projects, tutoring sessions, make-up summer classes and finally, redoing a course is not unheard of. As for emotional difficulties the very same applies: always talk to somebody sooner rather than later. It may be your professor, T.A., college nurse, mentor, career counsellor, or even roommate and don’t forget the phone home. Chances are that you know someone, whether you know it or not, who has felt as down as you have. So help is just one friend away.