Heading off to college is one of the many milestones people now face in life, but the transition is not always easy.
Colleges, though, have advice for incoming freshman that can help many students avoid problems including difficulty separating from home, adjusting to an increased workload, restraining themselves from peer pressures and total freedom, and working on their time management skills.
Jennie Volforte, Assistant Director of Housing and Residence Life at the University of South Carolina in Aiken says, "College can be both an exciting and frightening experience for new students. Freshmen experience a variety of social and academic transition issues. Some students face difficulties with the difference in academic expectations between high school and college. Other students face issues with being responsible for their own choices and level of success. Still others face issues with balancing new and old responsibilities. Some struggle with things such as managing their finances and their time; some are homesick and have difficulty finding a sense of belonging and developing a peer group."
Dr. Sandra Scott, Special Assistant to the President for Special Events at Paine College, suggests, "To avoid or prepare for these problems, students should be taught how to use good judgment before they ever leave home. Students without analytical skills are most likely to make more mistakes than those who are prepared to meet the challenges ahead. Everyone has the potential to make mistakes. However, those who have been forewarned and those who follow the directions given at orientation are most likely to be successful."
Schools encourage participation in various campus clubs and groups to ease transition and help develop new friendships.
"Don't be shy. You can just walk up to people and start talking. Everyone is in the same position you are, so just be aggressive," recommends Shireen Fischer, a sophomore at Agnes Scott.
Students should be knowledgeable about campus resources and not be afraid to use them if the need arises. Freshmen should also try to stay organized and set realistic goals.
Sumir Patel, a sophomore at Georgia Institute of Technology, says, "Manage your time. Set specific times out for your daily tasks because otherwise it's easy to fall behind."
Different aspects of college can also lead to more serious problems than finding a classroom or trying to get the first shower in the morning.
"Some students do struggle due to the fears and concerns that coming to college can often bring. Many struggle with balancing the excitement of their new experiences with old responsibilities. Some students have difficulty with many of their values being challenged by the many new opportunities and experiences that coming to college can bring. Sometimes just the stress of all of the changes and new experiences can be very overwhelming," Volforte said.
Psychological difficulties are common on college campuses due to the widespread and radical changes taking place in students' lives. To combat problems with depression or other mental health issues, colleges recommend paying extra attention to diet and sleep patterns. Schools have staff members trained to help students cope who can be reached through the health center if a student needs a therapist or medication.
Columbia University suggests that students not hesitate to receive extra help and cut out activities or acquaintances that have a bad effect on the participant.
Sarah Keeling, an academic advisor at Augusta State University, says, "We like to say push, pamper, and pace yourself. Students will have to push themselves beyond their ordinary limits, they should pace themselves in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and pamper themselves by rewarding a met goal or completing a difficult task."
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