Adjusting to College

As a freshman in college you will likely feel inundated by your new and unfamiliar surroundings. You will be living in a new room, on a new campus, with new college-level academics, and a new social scene. The first few days, weeks, and even months of college may feel strange and overwhelming—this is completely natural, as college is a huge adjustment. Keep these 6 tips in mind as you prepare to adapt to the college lifestyle.


1. Put yourself out there

Before I left for college, I was most nervous about making friends in the beginning of school. As daunting as making friends may seem, rest assured that there are plenty of ways to meet friends in college—as long as you make the effort and put yourself out there. Make conversation with the kids in your hall, orientation group, and classes. Explore new things by joining clubs and activities. Attend social events and if you are interested, look into greek life. This advice may sound trite, but I know from experience that joining campus organizations can have a significant impact on your adjustment to college. When you engage with your new college community, you will be surprised and reassured by how easily you are able to form connections and lasting friendships!

2. Get into a routine
After my first week or two of classes, I found myself falling into a loose routine. Once I felt like I had a basic idea of how to effectively manage my time, I felt more comfortable in the new college atmosphere. Allot windows of time for things like doing schoolwork, eating meals, and hanging out with friends. Keep in mind, that this ‘schedule’ does not by any means need to be a rigid itinerary; a basic framework for your day will more than suffice. The most important thing is that you feel at ease in this new environment, so plan your days in a way that makes you comfortable. In the beginning of the year, try not to be intimidated by the litany of academic assignments presented to you. Remember that you will spend significantly fewer hours the classroom than you did in high school. Focus on how you will spend this new free time; use the first few weeks of school to instill good time-management habits. You will find that as you get into the swing of college life, it will become easier to prioritize your work and activities.

3. Carve out time for yourself
As you adjust to college life, it is important to allow yourself some alone time. I found that there were times when I just needed to be alone for a few minutes and collect my thoughts. Amidst the craziness of moving into a dorm room with new roommates and sharing a bathroom with 12 other people, you will quickly discover that in college, privacy is limited. Try taking a walk, or finding a single cubicle in the library where you can clear your head. Take a deep breath and remember that everything is going to be okay and that everyone is experiencing similar emotions.

4. Remember that you are never ‘stuck’
If you don’t love the clubs you join, the classes you take, or the people you find yourself hanging out with in the beginning of college—don’t stress. It is okay if you don’t become instant best friends with your roommate, or the people that you spend time with in the first few weeks of school. As your time in college progresses, you will find yourself continually meeting new people and experiencing new things. Befriend upperclassmen; they are a great resource when it comes to asking for advice because they have been in your shoes. If you aren’t happy with your college situation right away, don’t settle. Continue to put yourself out there and remember that you are allowed to change your mind. You can and should and explore everything your campus has to offer. If you feel especially dispirited or stressed, there will always be professional help available on campus.

5. Don’t obsess over social media
While it is important to keep in touch with friends, be wary of social media. It is easy to feel discouraged or left out as you scroll through Instagram or Facebook. Everyone wants to appear like they are having the the time of their life at college. And while this may be the case, social media only shares a snapshot of the story. It is crucial to remember that everyone has to adjust to college and cope with the inherent stress. Don’t compare your college experience to a perceived experience based on social media posts. Instead, focus on yourself and what you can do to make the most of your own college experience.

 6. Keep in touch
The beginning of college is like a continuous montage of smaller beginnings. It is natural to feel homesick and overwhelmed by these first few weeks. Remember that your family and friends from home are always just a text or phone call away. I found that when I was surrounded by the new and unfamiliar, it felt good to engage with the familiar. Check in with your friends and family and fill them in on your new college life and catch up on what’s going on in their lives and at home. It is amazing what a difference this can make in helping you feel more at home at college.



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Author: Amelia Fogg

Amelia just finished her freshman year at Colgate University and has lived in Ridgewood for her entire life. She is very excited to contribute to TipsfromTown by providing some insight into the college process and experience!


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