Do you remember when you were a little kid gazing at a snow globe? Shaking it up and watching as all the “snow” scattered about and finally drifted and settled to the bottom of the scene. Moving away from home and transitioning to college life is a bit like that snow globe.
Everyone is in the same situation and it takes a while to settle in, adjust and find your place. As a counselor and educator for over thirty years, I wanted to provide some advice, so I turned to an expert. I asked my daughter, a rising junior at American University.
Sara said to be patient and realize that while it is difficult and awkward at first, things do get better. She also encouraged new freshmen to keep “putting yourself out there”. ‘Try new things and keep interacting with new people until you find your niche.” Let’s talk about some of the challenges you are likely to encounter and some tips for coping.
Roommates: Most likely many of you have never had to share a room before let alone one like the “palatial palace” a.k.a. your dorm room that you will now inhabit with a stranger. The first thing you should do is to sit down and write a contract of rules that you both agree to such as quiet hours, visitors, borrowing each other’s things etc. Try your best to follow these rules and if you break one apologize and discuss it. You don’t have to become best friends with your roommate, just learn to communicate and be considerate. Chances are even if you are very different you will eventually get along and maybe even enjoy living together.
It’s not 13th grade: Many things differentiate college from high school. During my seminars featuring college students sharing their experiences with high school upper classmen, one consistent piece of advice that emerges is to learn time management skills. In college: you spend about three hours per day actually in class, very few professors take attendance, finals are intense and may count for 50 percent of your grade, and the distractions preventing studying are non stop. The best way ensure success academically is to try these tips.