Whether you’re looking at an on-campus experience or reading into online masters degrees, going to college is a big leap, mentally and emotionally. The unexpected stress and performance pressure of a first semester can catch many students off guard. That’s why it’s important to take a few steps to make sure you’re mentally ready for everything your college experience is about to hand out. Here are a few tips to help you emotionally prepare for college.
Make Sure You Have a Support Network
Whether you’re moving to a large, campus-focused school like Hofstra University or pursuing your education at a smaller community college, having a support network is of the utmost importance when it comes to your first school year. Keep in touch with high school friends, teachers, family, or whoever you consider as a source of emotional stability and support. If it helps, try to keep a schedule when it comes to reaching out. If you feel more comfortable knowing you can talk to a certain friend at least once a week, schedule it ahead of time and make it a recurring call. Even if you only have time to text, reaching out to your friends and family will help your mental health and let your support network know that you’re doing okay.
Know Who to Talk to On Campus
Any campus will have some facility devoted to mental health and safety. Whether it’s an orientation guide, dorm RA, or a mental health professional on campus, make sure you know who to touch base with if things start to feel overwhelming. Most freshmen are instantly enrolled in a basic health plan that gives them access to therapy. If you know you want to take advantage of this option, try to make an appointment in advance. That way, you won’t have to wait until the last minute to take care of your mental health. If you’re unsure about who to talk to, ask around campus about the best route to take and it won’t be long before you’re pointed in the right direction.
Exercise Time Management
When it comes to stress, college can be extremely tough on first-years. It’s never easy to leave home, adapt to a new living situation, and take on a huge course load all at once. It can feel overwhelming. However, one of the best ways to keep from getting overwhelmed is to learn good time management skills. Learn how to plan out your time well and take on other social roles and activities only if you feel you can actually give your time to them. It’s okay not to automatically say ‘yes’ to everything, especially if it’s in the interest of not getting swamped with work and stress.
Don’t Isolate Yourself
Many students’ first instinct, when faced with an overwhelming course load and a new, unfamiliar campus, is to withdraw entirely. However, this can easily backfire. Though it can be hard to juggle schoolwork with your social life, try to make a commitment to being social at least part of the time. Even though you have a support group from home, it’s important to find a group of people at school who will be there for you and help you through the transition.