Going to college is an important transition. For many people, it is an exciting and enriching time. However, it can also pose challenges, especially if you leave home for the first time. New students must adjust to new people, new routines, new challenges, and new environments. It’s important to remember that everyone is different in how they adjust to college. Some adjust quickly, and others take more time. If you are new to college and having a difficult time, don’t panic—there are ways to get on track. 

For new and returning college students, here are ten ways to successfully adjust to college life that will guide you through this school year. 

  1. Get involved. Involvement with others and campus activities are healthy pursuits. Involvement can produce positive thoughts and feelings related to good self-esteem and academic success. 
  1. Get to know your advisers and faculty. Take advantage of office hours to talk to your faculty about course material and concepts you don’t understand.  Ask for feedback and meet with your advisers to ensure you are on track to a timely graduation. 
  1. Stay positive. Work toward maintaining an optimistic attitude and interacting with others in productive ways. Be accepting and tolerant of yourself and others. 
  1. Go to class. Attendance in class ought to be one of your top priorities. Your academic success and successful stress management are dependent upon good attendance. 
  1. Stay on campus when you can. The college years are a time to develop independence and autonomy. This occurs when you become your own person and develop new relationships in your new community. 
  1. Eat and sleep well. We function at our best when our bodies are appropriately nurtured. 
  1. Build in time to de-stress. Academic success depends on your overall well-being.  Find time to pursue other activities you enjoy, including exercise and sleep. Push reset. Don’t let a disappointing grade set you back.  Success is learning how to bounce back from inevitable disappointments.  You can get back on track by being resourceful and learning how to ask for help. 
  1. Communicate productively. Be assertive with others so that your own needs are met but do this in ways that respect others and their differences. 
  1. Maintain healthy relationships. Work to avoid “toxic” relationships, but also do a lot of give and take with your friends. Put effort into resolving conflicts in ways that honor yourself and others. Stay in touch with those that support you. 
  1. Stay focused. Academic life requires students to focus and concentrate. Work to avoid or reduce things that interfere with your concentration. 

Recommendations for First-Year College Students  

What steps can you take to have a great first year of college? 

  • Be patient. While the campus may seem new and overwhelming for new students, it becomes more familiar with time. Refer to the many resources available to assist you in navigating your surroundings. Your college or university website provides useful tools to get you through the initial transition to campus.  
  • Connect with other students. If you talk to other students, you will likely discover they share similar questions and concerns.  
  • Get involved. Student organizations are a fun way to interact with other students and faculty. Meeting people with similar interests and goals is an exciting way to make friends and participate in social activities.  
  • Utilize resources. There are numerous resources on campus designed to create a rewarding college experience. A range of offices and programs, such as the Office of Student Life, the Counseling Center, the Center for Student Success, your Academic Advisor, financial aid programs, and mentoring/tutoring programs, are offered to address various student needs.  
  • Care for yourself. The foundation for a productive college career is a healthy lifestyle. Take the necessary steps for nurturance, getting adequate rest, socializing, and engaging in physical activity.  

In the midst of classes and all the requirements of college, the weeks and semesters can seem long and arduous. But, in the end, it goes by quickly. College can and should be one of the most enjoyable, transformational, and memorable times of your life. It’s a time to connect with peers, experience new things, and make memories. Be vulnerable, get involved, and make the most of your time. You won’t regret it. If you are struggling to adjust to the academic side of college, consider learning some new ways to succeed. You can also seek help from one of the many academic resources at your college or university. It’s important to ask for help early, before things get to a crisis point. Many students feel reluctant or embarrassed about asking for help, but it’s important to reach out when you need to. There is no shortage of resources to support students academically and personally. The degree you earn will be a testament not just to your academic scholarship but to your self-awareness, resilience, and persistence skills.