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Adjustment to College

College is an exciting time of life, one filled with many profound transitions in preparation for an exciting and fulfilling future. One thing is likely true for all first year students: beginning college provides countless opportunities for growth, newly emerging challenges, and an accumulation of rich interpersonal experiences.

Often, having a sense of what you’re going through helps reduce the negative impact it can have on your life. Try to be mindful of the changes that will likely greet you, and develop some ideas about how to respond as you move through the first several weeks of life here at Drexel University.

  • Increased personal freedom and responsibility.
  • Different Kinds of Academic Strategies Needed for Success
  • Greater Levels of Difficulty of Academic Demands
  • Greater complexity of time-management responsibilities
  • New friendships at college that differ from high school friendships
  • Much more (or much less) racial and cultural diversity than what you experienced in your home community, or similar diversity but less socializing among people of different races.
  • A greater range of values and morals in college than in your home community.
  • Being surrounded by many peers who are also high achieving.
  • Changing relationships with family members and friends from home
  • Maintaining a long-distance romantic relationship while beginning a new life that may not involve your partner from home.

Keep this in mind: Struggling is not a sign of weakness or failure. In fact, struggling is usually the first phase of developing a new strength or strategy for success and wisdom. Below are some helpful hints in moving through the adjustment to college life:

  • Reach out to others. Start conversations and trust the process of forming new friendships.
  • Stay healthy and educated about how to maximize all aspects of your health.
  • Become aware of the many activities and organizations that you can join.
  • Adjust your expectations if things are not working out as you planned. Perhaps what you planned wasn’t going to offer as much as what is actually happening!
  • Make use of the services and resources to keep you on track academically. Avoid the common mistake of avoiding help just to prove you don’t need help. At this phase in your life, not using available resources is likely to prove much more costly than simply needing assistance from time to time.
  • Connect with the team of support in your residence hall.

Get support from a counselor with expertise in college student development. That’s where the staff of the Counseling Center can play a role. Whether your struggle is something you’ve been facing since before you came to college or something that has emerged as you’ve been adjusting to college life, meeting with a counselor can be an effective way of getting through the challenging time and continuing toward a successful and fulfilling career at Drexel and after you graduate.

For more information or assistance, please contact the Drexel University Counseling Center at (215) 895-1415, or e-mail counseling@drexel.edu. There is also a video presentation on Adjustment to College available here.


Tips for Settling In to College Quickly and Easily

  1. Get Involved
    There are many activities on campus, so go ahead and get involved! Don't wait! Instead get involved your first few weeks of your freshman year. This will allow you to meet friends, be part of a social group, as well as make a difference in the university, and you will have a healthier attitude regarding college altogether.
  2. Stay on Campus
    Many college freshman are afraid to stay on campus because residence halls are small and the food isn't like mom's home cooking. However, staying on campus is an important way to adjust to college life. You will have a roommate, meet new friends, have an instant support group, and learn a lot about yourself as well as others. In addition, when you stay on campus you are close to all campus activities, the library, and extracurricular activities.
  3. Eat and Sleep Regularly
    Adjusting to college life can take a lot out of you because of the new class schedules, studying, and having to figure out how to handle it on your own. Because of this it is very important to eat and sleep on a schedule. Make sure you eat three healthy meals a day, sleep at least eight hours a night, and you will feel happier and healthier and better able to adjust to college life.
  4. Manage Stress
    College is stressful, and for a beginning freshman it might be overwhelming. However, manage your stress by working out, practicing yoga, deep breathing, or any other method you find helpful. When you are not stressed out you will be able to adjust to college life and accept all of the new ways of doing things. However, if you stay stressed out it will impact your grades as well as your health.
  5. Stay Focused
    Because college can be so much fun, it might be difficult to stay focused on your work. However, remember why you are at college in the first place and think of it as your full-time job now that you are an adult. You want to get a degree and ultimately a good job. So, focus on your major and where you want to go in your life more than where the best party is this weekend. You can still look for extracurricular activities, but keep your mind focused on your work more.
  6. Attend Every Class
    Class attendance in college is not the same as high school. Many times attendance is not even taken, so it is easy to skip class for more exciting things. However, if you don't go to class you will find it difficult to learn what you need to for the exams and papers, and you may miss pop quizzes. As a result, you should attend every class unless you are seriously ill. In the event you must miss a class, let your professor know why and ask if you can get the notes.
  7. Look on the Bright Side
    You need to always keep a positive attitude when it comes to adjusting to college life. It truly is difficult to always look on the bright side when your entire life has changed and you are not quite sure what to make of it. However, look at college as an adventure and each new day providing something new. This should help you keep your chin up.
  8. Enjoy yourself!
    You may have heard that college is an excuse for partying, but it can easily become a distraction that keeps you from being successful. While you don't want to get bogged down in the party scene, you do need to learn how to enjoy yourself. If you are following all of the above tips to help you adjust to college, you can relax some every day after you have finished your homework. Simply enjoy hanging out with friends and meeting new people.
  9. Communicate
    Remember, college is a time when you will meet many new people that may have completely different views than your own, and you may end up living with one. As a result, make sure you always communicate openly and honestly about your feelings while respecting other people as well. Don't let others take advantage of you.

The content provided here is intended for informational purposes only. It is not intended for self-diagnosis or self-treatment, nor should it replace the consultation of a trained medical or mental health professional. Please note that outside links are not under our control, and we cannot guarantee the content contained on them.