How to help your student transition to college life

Published 3:45 pm Friday, July 25, 2014

The date has finally arrived — you’re heading off to college and even though you’re excited, there are also some concerns. I too, remember packing up and heading off to college as a freshman — I was excited but afraid at the same time of the many unknown. Questions such as will my roommate be weird? Will I fit in? Am I smart enough? These were all racing through my head as my parents unloaded my stuff, got me settle in and drove away.
So if you (or your child) are heading off to college in a couple of weeks here are a couple of tips that I hope will take away some of the anxiety.
1. Will my roommate be weird? In today’s world with social media, you can get to know a lot about your roommate and meet them before arriving on campus. So take advantage of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and face time to get to know your roommate. If time and distance permits, arrange a time to get together before moving in — include your parents so they too, will feel comfortable with your new roommate.
2. Do realize that you may get homesick. Even though college is awesome, remember you’ll be leaving your old life and entering a totally new and sometime a very over whelming one. It’s normal to get homesick, but if you’re feeling homesick and becoming depressed, that’s not normal. All colleges offer a counseling center, so I encourage you to reach out and use the services provided (after all you’re paying for it) and you won’t be the first freshman to walk through their doors saying that they miss home. Counselors can help you adjust to college life in a healthy and effective way.
3. Will it be safe on campus? With more and more incidents of violence occurring on college campuses, safety is a real issue and concern.
Student safety is a major focus for all institutions. Security information and phone numbers will be given verbally and in written materials at first — year (freshman) orientation — take it seriously. Regardless of how secure you may feel in a setting you must use some basic street smarts. Some of these are — be aware of your surrounding at all time; know how to get out of a building — where the exits are; “lock it or lose it” is the message for personal property, including laptops, other electronics and automobiles; program campus security’s numbers into your cell phone immediately is a very smart move; don’t go out alone and especially at night and putting your drink down in a social setting is a bad idea — if you do get yourself a new drink.
4. Learn the basics before leaving home — how to manage your money, how to do your laundry and how to prepare a simple dish (spaghetti is a great choice); how to sew on a button, etc.; these skills will go a long ways and save you from a panic attack.
College fears are normal, but it still has been one of the best seasons of my life and by the way, my “not so weird” college roommate and I are still best friends — we talk almost every week some 33 years later.

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