Going Away to College- Ten Tips to Effectively Adjust

by Dana Gerasimovich

Going away to college for the first time or returning to college for a new semester can be a tough adjustment for many young adults. College students may feel anxious about being in a new environment away from home and may experience feelings of sadness from missing their friends and family. Students may also feel stressed about classes and college workloads. Here are ten tips to help new college students adjust to the new semester of college.


Time management is an important skill to develop while in college. In the beginning of the semester, you may become overwhelmed with all the requirements and the workload in each class. There are a several ways you may organize and prioritize your time. For instance, make a daily to do list and prioritize your time by completing the most important tasks first. Set a schedule and realistic goals. Also, some college students may use a planner. A planner will help keep track of assignments and important dates. Another popular tool a student can use is an online calendar on their personal phone. This will let you set alarms and create reminders for personal events and assignments. By utilizing these tools, you may feel less anxious about missing an assignment or an important event.


A new hobby can help you keep your mind off of the stressors of college. Each person has individual interests, exploring your personal interest can help you find a new hobby to explore. For example, some college students find exercise, reading, painting, drawing, journaling, listening to podcasts and volunteering as fulfilling hobbies.


While attending college away from home for the first time, it is often lonely and difficult leaving your hometown and all your friends. One way to adjust is to form new connections and make new friends. You may say, this is easier said than done! To make it easier to make new connections, some college students will attend sporting events, campus clubs, and sit in an open seat next to someone new in class. These are some suggestions to broaden your experience in college and help you to make new friends. Once you make these connections you may feel more secure and happy in your new environment away from home.


On campus support groups may help you find the guidance and peer support needed while you are attending college away from home. Colleges often offer a variety of support groups addressing issues, such as anxiety, depression, substance use and other mental illness. Attending one of these groups may help you adjust and feel more comfortable during your college experience.


Decorating your new living space is a great opportunity to make your home away from home a great place. As a college student, you may either live in a dorm room, a room within an on-campus housing location, or a living space off campus. Decorating will allow you to create the space you have by making it your own, helping you feel comfortable and safe. You may bring some treasured items from home to your new living space to help you feel more at ease. Many college students have expressed that hanging up pictures of their friends, family, and loved ones in their space helps them adjust to living away for home.


Adjusting to a new environment can result in a change in your eating habits. While in college, it is common for young adults to skip meals or feel too stressed out to eat. Also, some college students find it is hard to determine what type of meal plan is best for them and sometimes settle for fast food as part of their diet. Eating well balanced meals can help you feel calmer, energized and prepared for the day. Being mindful of your eating habits by preparing mealtimes and meal options will help you feel healthier and adapt better to college life.


Planning a visit to various places can be very therapeutic for students. You may plan a visit to your favorite vacation spot, amusement park or most importantly, your hometown. Planning trips can evoke feelings of happiness and excitement. Many college students experience the feelings of being homesick. These feelings are common and valid to students adjusting to life away from home. College students often express that once they visited their hometown a few times, they come to the self-realization that they have adjusted to their college experience because now they miss their college home and are happy to return.


We live in a technological society where it is possible to speak and see our loved ones using a cell phone or personal computer. If you are feeling anxious, sad, lonely or just need a friendly face to speak with, setting up FaceTime dates can be an effective way in reducing those feelings. Exploring this new age form of contact is a great way to help you adjust to your new environment.


Self-care is important in your everyday life and can help you adjust to college. When you hear the word self-care, what does it mean to you? For instance, self-care can be taking time in your day to do activities that will maintain or improve your health and happiness. This time is used to focus on yourself and your physical and emotional needs. It is important to validate and acknowledge what you may be feeling. Self-care is also considered a time within your day you plan an activity you enjoy. Self-care may include activities, such as hiking, bike riding, meditating, reading a good book, or playing a board game with a roommate. Self-care can help replenish you physically and emotionally making adjusting to college much easier.


Adjusting to a new environment and experience can be stressful and can trigger mental health issues. Speaking with a counselor can help guide you and give you the needed support to make it through this new adjustment period. Along with the traditional face-to-face methods, counseling has evolved into a new era with the use of technology that allows you to receive counseling through means, such as phone and video. For instance, some college students find it helpful to have phone or video sessions with a counselor they were initially seeing near their hometown and now can continue to receive counseling while they are away at college. This allows students the continued support and guidance with a trusted professional.


Going away to college is a new and exciting time for many young adults. Along with the thrill of new beginnings, often come adjustment difficulties. You can take a few healthy and beneficial steps to help you adjust and feel more comfortable in your new environment and allow yourself to feel happy about this experience.

For further reading:

  • Cowan, Alison Leigh, et al. How to Survive Your Freshman Year. Hundreds of Heads Books, LLC, 2019.
  • Harrison, Harry H. 1001 Things Every College Student Needs to Know (like Buying Your Books before Exams Start). Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2008.
  • Jacobs, L. F., & Hyman, J. S. The Secrets of College Success. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass, a Wiley Brand, 2019.
  • Scott, Sheridan, et al. Now You Tell Me!: 12 College Students Give the Best Advice They Never Got. Arundel Publishing, 2012.
  • Thornburgh, Blair. Stuff Every College Student Should Know. Random House USA, 2014.

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