Settling in and settling nerves in your first year on campus

Male student walking down a campus breezeway

Tips on adapting to campus life and finding resources.

You did it. You’ve applied, registered, been accepted, paid, and been orientated, and now you’re a full-fledged college student. So why isn’t everyone smiling? For some, adjusting to college life comes naturally — for many, it takes some work. But, just like with your first day of high school, you’ll soon be having a great time.

Adapting to campus life

Whether you’re living in a dorm or staying off campus, being away from home for the first time can be challenging. Getting along with your dormmates or roommates is key to any new living arrangement. It’s likely that both of you are new to campus, so spend a little time to get to know each other and discover how best to share a space in this new world.

If you’re living off campus, try to get involved in clubs and extracurricular activities to get the full college experience. If you’re living on campus, don’t forget that there is a whole town surrounding the university — getting away from academic settings every once in a while is good for you.

There are plenty of resources available

As you start classes, you’ll likely make friends in college naturally. Don’t worry if this takes a while. Many classmates are likely feeling apprehensive or lost, so they might be shy. Seek out classmates and connect over your shared common ground — schoolwork. The more you get involved, the easier things will become.

If you’re dealing with anxiety or any other type of undue stress, visit your school’s counseling center or speak with friends and family. Feeling homesick? Acknowledge it, talk about it, give yourself time to adjust, and stay in touch with loved ones. Other campus services to keep in mind include:

  • Residential services. If you live in a dormitory, resident assistants (RAs) can guide you through both academic and non-academic issues or direct you to the proper channels.
  • Counseling centers. These free, confidential mental health counselors are trained to help students adjust to college life, and they have many resources available.
  • Religious centers. Most campuses have clergy of different denominations and affiliations that you can speak to.
  • Financial aid and bursar’s offices. For any issues you may have with tuition, rent, or other finances, this is a good place to find information and help.
  • Information technology support. Otherwise known as IT, they can help you with printers, computers, student portals, Wi-Fi, etc.
  • Career centers. This is not only a place for building a career path, but also for finding part-time work, campus jobs, resume help, training, etc.

Remember that even though this is a big change, college can provide life lessons in addition to what you will learn in class. Before you know it, you’ll be a seasoned pro and giving others advice.

Want to read more about building a spending plan in school?

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