The move from high school to college comes with its own unique stressors, and for many students, making this transition at just eighteen years old can be an extra layer of challenges. Anticipatory anxiety during your senior year of high school and the summer that precedes your freshman year of college is extremely common and should be talked about more. If you are a student that has decided to move away from home to attend your school of choice, and this is your first experience living away from home, adding that into the mix also deserves extended conversations. Luckily, the commonality of this process lends itself to a plethora of resources to help make it easier. Handling your course work, lifestyle needs, personal time, and health is a lot to juggle simultaneously, so do not be shy to seek out and take advantage of every olive branch that is extended your way.
College, and life in general, requires a sharp focus and an attention to detail that sometimes even the most experienced individuals can struggle with. Start by understanding that taking care of yourself is going to be your biggest defense against any outside stressors that try to take you down. Up until this point your parents have likely managed your health care needs, so if that is the case, have a conversation with them early on about what goes into this process so that once you oversee managing it yourself you have a baseline knowledge to support you.
Many campuses have now incorporated telehealth into their list of offerings for all their students. One of the biggest benefits to come from telehealth is increased access. Ever since companies like timely.md have forged partnerships with universities that span a large geographical radius, students have experienced a lower level of healthcare related stress as well as an increased level of empowerment surrounding taking control of their health.
Mental health concerns are a trending topic right now, and for good reason. Bringing these formally taboo subjects out of the back room and into the forefront of society allows individuals who struggle with these challenges to embrace the opportunity to seek help. When you are just starting out your college career, virtually every single experience is a first, for a while. Navigating that can bring up new emotions and many students find comfort in the fact that they no longer are made to feel that they must do it alone.
Create a Routine
One of the blessings of youth is that you generally do not have to live by much of a schedule and if you do, often you have help in the form of a parent or guardian helping you to manage it. That all drops off a cliff once you branch out into college on your own. There is little buffer between the time in your life when you have help with things like money, chores, meals, etc. and when you are the sole person responsible for handling all that, plus your schoolwork.
In contrast, college is also a great opportunity to use that freedom and independence of schedule to learn about your personal habits, ways in which you thrive, and create a routine for yourself that supports your strengths. Class scheduling is a great example of this. In high school you attended classes based off a timeline set by your school, college is not like that. You will have the freedom to select your class days and times on your own. If you know you are someone who likes to wake up early and hit the ground running, consider this when selecting your classes and look for morning options.
Discovering where your strengths are in terms of managing your lifestyle and your studies will happen through a lot of trial and error. Once you have identified your strengths though, play to them. If you tried out those early morning classes and found that you were not attentive enough at that time, or you were skipping class because you did not know you would also need to consider how the commute time would impact your schedule, make an adjusted choice in future semesters.
Understand Your Finances
College is basically synonymous with a time in life where most people would describe themselves as spread very thin financially. But regardless of how much or how little money you are working with, living by a budget is essential. Much like the other areas of your life, your finances to this point have likely been managed by your parent or guardian. If you can talk about money and financial planning for when you attend college with these adults, you should take advantage of that opportunity. You can source a generic college student budget template online to get yourself started and create more specific and detailed categories that are personal to you and your finances from there. Do not forget that college is also a time where there is a lot of fun to be had, so living by a budget does not mean you have to miss out on all of that it simply means you must prepare and account for it.
Credit cards are prevalent on most college campuses, and it is important that you have a working knowledge of what credit cards mean for your financial health long term, so you are not temped to make an uninformed decision. Once you are eighteen that means you are free to sign up for a credit card as a legal adult, which can be exciting, but again, deserves your attention. One of the most important things to understand about credit cards, and your credit score, is that it can take a while to build it up or recover it, but truly little time to damage it.
Build a Village
Even if you are not leaving your hometown for college, you will be thrust into a world that is filled with new faces and new social opportunities. One way that you can ease this transition is by putting yourself out there socially and making a true effort to become a part of campus life. Creating connections with other students, professors, and even alumni of your school of choice is the first building block to creating your own little village. Research extracurriculars that are in line with your interests and push yourself to attend the activities your school offers. Some of these groups and clubs are even virtual which means that even if your comfort level has not yet reached the point of total extrovert, you can still begin to build your social community.