Another school year has begun! August rolls around so fast every year. What I can’t believe is that is was exactly 20 years ago that I was headed off to college as a freshman. I know I shouldn’t date myself this way, but it just blows my mind that I started college that long ago. It certainly doesn’t feel like it!
Anyway, move in day has come and gone for a lot of college freshman. The first weekend away from your parents can bring mixed feelings. For some it will be exciting to have freedom at last. For others it will be somewhat anxiety provoking to be so far away from home. Others will feel dread at classes starting and feel overwhelmed already looking at their syllabus online. Other new freshman may feel a little lost, a little lonely and wish they had gone to the school where all their friends went. Others will feel like they’ve walked into their high school class reunion.
There are so many different experiences while starting college. You’re figuring out a whole new living situation and trying to find your way around campus. You can’t believe how many new people you’ve met in just a few days. So many new Facebook friends, yet so little time to actually be on Facebook. You realize that 2am is early to get to bed, yet somehow you still signed up for all 8am classes. You may make a mental note to change that for the spring semester. It is a crazy time full of adjustment.
Some adjustments will be easy. Others will be hard. Some people are born to party and make new friends easily, yet will find they struggle to make it to class and finish the semester. Other people will thrive in their classes, but feel anxious every time they have to find someone to eat lunch and dinner with every day. Just know that everyone goes through some hard times their first semester. College is a lot of fun, full of great new experiences. However, it is also stressful and full of moments of doubt. Each experience is going to shape you and help you become someone you won’t even recognize at the end of your four (or five) years of school.
It is okay to take risks and try new things. If you make a mistake, do your best to learn from it and move on. Don’t be too hard on yourself or have too high of expectations. Especially watch the expectations. So many new college students have this image of being the perfect student, or getting into the best sorority or fraternity, or finding the perfect boyfriend or girlfriend, or going to the best parties every weekend. You don’t have to be perfect and you don’t have to be involved in all the right clubs or organizations or be in a relationship to have a great college experience.
Just take this opportunity to explore the opportunities before you and make changes as necessary. Ask for help when you need it and take responsibility for yourself when you don’t. Have fun, but not too much fun. Study hard, but not too hard. Don’t go to any extremes. My advice for new college students is to find balance. All work and no play isn’t good for you, but all play and no work won’t get you very far either. Make sure you find time to eat, sleep, and exercise. This will help reduce stress and keep you focused when those really hard weeks during midterms and finals come around.
One of the top things I talk about in my counseling office, besides relationships, is stress. Time management is key. In college you really have to know how to manage your time. Take the next few weeks and try to find a good routine and schedule for studying, hanging out with friends, and getting involved with other activities on campus. If you take on too much, try to back off on a few commitments. If you find you are bored and spending too much time in your room, look for ways to get involved with things that may interest you. Tweak your schedule as you go through the semester until you find the right balance with your time. This will be key as you go through your time in college.
Good luck out there!! I hope you have a great first year!!