Graduating high school and entering college is considered an exciting milestone in your life, but it also comes with a lot of stress as it is undeniably a huge transition. The first year of college is difficult for many young adults which means it’s important to your mental health to craft coping mechanisms that ease you into the transition and minimize as much stress as possible.
Easing yourself out of high school and into college
There are a number of ways you can help yourself handle the newness of college life and transition into living on campus.
1. Let go of expectations
Our culture sets certain expectations for college. The common stereotype is this is a fun, carefree time full of independence and opportunities to meet new people. But having certain expectations for your college experience can put a lot of pressure on you to do things the “right” way. If college doesn’t turn out the way you wanted it to, you might feel disappointed.
Before you enter your first semester of college, make a conscious effort to let go of any expectations you have and just enjoy the present moment.
2. Establish a new routine
Routine helps provide stability in our lives. Try to create a new routine within your first month on campus. Plan out times to study and complete assignments. Also, make an effort to stick to regular meals and a consistent sleep schedule.
Many students struggle to establish a routine because college provides so much freedom and less guidance from parents and teachers. But taking the initiative to do so will relieve a lot of stress.
3. Connect with your peers
Some students are excited by the chance to meet so many new people, while others find the number of new faces overwhelming. Regardless of what you’re feeling, it’s important to make meaningful connections with your fellow students.
You might enjoy attending parties and hanging out with a large group of friends. Or, you might prefer to have a small group of close friends and spend time with people one-on-one. If you find yourself struggling to connect with fellow students, here are some things to try:
- Join a club that interests you or aligns with your hobbies
- Attend on-campus events
- Introduce yourself to the people living on your dorm floor
- Form or join a study group for one of your classes
- Host a game night or event in your dorm
Even having one close connection can make a difference.
4. Seek out campus resources
Your school should have resources available to help you transition to college life. Stop by the counseling office or tutoring center to learn about the mental health and academic offerings. Talk to your Resident Assistant (RA) about dorm life. See your academic advisor for any questions about classes and scheduling. If you’re struggling in a class, don’t be afraid to ask the professor for help.
Colleges understand that it takes time to adjust to a new way of life. They want to help you succeed. Take advantage of any resources you need to thrive in this new setting.
5. Stay in touch with family and friends
Just because you’re going away to college doesn’t mean you can’t remain in touch with family and old friends. Text, call and video chat to maintain those old relationships. It’s comforting to talk with familiar people when so much is changing around you.
6. Maintain Your Physical and Mental Health
Many students mistakenly put all the emphasis on academic performance and social activities. They may even start to neglect their health. But no one can perform their best without adequate sleep, nutrition and mental well-being. Make sure you’re eating regular and balanced meals, sleeping at least seven to nine hours each night and taking time to de-stress via exercise and leisure activities.
7. Consider Counseling
Counseling is not just for those with a diagnosed mental health condition. It can be beneficial for anyone who is struggling with a big adjustment, including transitioning to college. Therapists offer an objective opinion and a new perspective on issues. They are empathetic, listening to you without judgment. Most importantly, they can help you develop healthy coping skills and a resilient attitude.
Your college likely offers counseling that is included in the cost of tuition. If you find that you need more support, it may be beneficial to find a local therapist. For college students with a diagnosed mental health disorder, a higher level of care might be beneficial.
Counseling for young adults from The Light Program
The Light Program offers mental health counseling for adults and teens and can offer the support you need during your transition from high school to college. If you want to seek additional counseling options, reach out to The Light Program anytime or give us a call at 610-644-6464.