College 101: Key Tips To Survive Your First Year

Posted by Marissa Fuqua, Contributing Writer, on Aug 17, 2022

College 101: Key Tips To Survive Your First Year

You walked across the high school stage (or football field) feeling limitless. That same feeling returns as you step foot on campus to start your first year of college. You are free! Life is grand for a few days, but then you start to feel some unfamiliar things: loneliness, stress, anxiety, but also happiness. You are still free but now feeling...overwhelmed. Why so much emotional distress, especially during the first year away from home?

Everything from academic pressure to overprotective parenting to excessive engagement in social media has been blamed for the spike in anxiety and depression in young adults.  Too many college students face challenges for which they are emotionally ill-equipped to handle. In fact, suicide is now the second leading cause of death for college students. Read on for some key tips to help you handle the changes and challenges you will experience as you transition to college life.

How Can I Prepare for College Life?

Leaving home for college can make most people feel as though they aren't quite ready. Like any big adventure, it is important to be prepared. Here are some tips to help you get ready for college before you ever leave home:
  • Practice mindfulness. Be self-aware of your thoughts and feelings.
  • Plan how to cope, ahead of time. Prepare yourself to emotionally handle specific experiences you may encounter. Think ahead about how to respond to triggering situations. For example, think about how you will respond to receiving a bad grade, or missing your community at home.
  • Have the necessary tools. Have a toolbox of strategies and things (favorite books, Bible verses, song playlist, inspirational quotes, photos from home, collections of silly jokes or gifs) that will bring comfort when you are feeling highly emotional or overwhelmed.

What Can I Expect to Experience at College?

When you first arrive at college, you will feel like you are on an emotional roller coaster. The emotions you feel are okay...they are completely normal. Here are some of the more common ones to expect during your first year:
  • Nervousness: You may find yourself never wanting to crawl out of bed in the morning because you have no idea what the day is going to bring you. With a new environment, new people, and new classes, you're bound to be nervous at some point.
  • Stress/Anxiety: From the endless amount of homework to getting used to your new class schedule to your professors sometimes making zero sense, stress is going to be a major emotion at college. But it's normal. Relieve your stress by sitting back, taking deep breaths, and taking a break from your homework. Don't push yourself. Know your limits.
  • Loneliness: Your first few weeks may seem easy because you haven't been away from home too long yet, but after about a month, you may get a little sad. The adjustment has taken place. You realize you miss your family, your own bed, and your friends from home.
  • Happiness: Once you finally settle into school and get the hang of things, you'll rediscover happiness. With the environment at your school and the amazing group of friends you have, you'll find out why leaving college for breaks can be so difficult.
  • Confidence: After the first couple weeks of classes roll by, you'll be feeling confident in completing your work, managing good grades, and balancing work and a social life.
  • Eagerness/anticipation: Although you probably went through feeling lonely, anxious, and stressed, you're extremely eager to see what's in store for you while you conquer your time at college.

How Can I Cope with Stress and Anxiety in College?

Stress and anxiety are a part of life, but you might experience a new level of stress and anxiety during your first year in college. In high school, we are surrounded by family and friends that support us through difficult times. But if you attend a university away from home or if your friends go to different universities, it can be difficult to cope with stress on your own. Here are a few tips on how to cope with stress while away at college.
  • Surround yourself with a new support group. In college, you will have the opportunity to meet a lot of new people. You can connect with roommates or form small study groups with other students in your class. You can connect with small groups that support a cause you are passionate about or small groups that do Bible studies on campus. You can also connect with a local church and find a group that best fits you! The important part is to find a few people that you can count on for support, love, and encouragement.
  • Be prepared for classes. One type of anxiety that many new college students feel is test anxiety. The best way to cope with test anxiety is to be prepared. Do not cram the night before but study over a period of time. Preparation is key to feeling confident in class and other situations. For additional strategies, check out 10 Ways to Overcome Test Anxiety.
  • Attend counseling. If you are feeling extreme anxiety and distress, or if you have experienced a major trauma, check with your college for counseling programs. Most universities and community colleges offer free student support services and counseling. Seeking counseling is necessary when experiencing a crisis or extreme emotions that leave you feeling hopeless. For signs of distress or steps you should take when helping a friend in distress, read Distress: Helping a Friend.

Looking to the Future

Although you will experience new emotions and concerns during your first year, college is a wonderful season of life. You will meet new people, become more independent, and pursue your passions and dreams. Enjoy the moments and don’t let them pass too quickly!
College can be tough but it's easier to overcome any challenges when we are connected to a supportive and loving community. For more info on our 18-22 year old group (no college required to join!) contact Crystal Johnson at [email protected] or check out our Young Adults page.
 


Share This:

Recent Stories

Swipe to Discover more

What Is Advent?

Nov 25, 2022

Holiday traditions anchor us as they bring cheer into our homes. Explore the centuries-old tradition of Advent and how it can enrich your own Christmas celebration.


How to Have a Heart Filled With Thanks

Nov 22, 2022

As Thanksgiving draws near, we start thinking about what we are thankful for. But what does it mean to have a heart filled with thanks beyond the holidays?


Starting New Thanksgiving Traditions

Nov 18, 2022

Life changes happen, and they can make celebrating the holidays tough. Use these ideas to help you "flip the script" on those changes and begin some new traditions.


4 Key #HolidayGoals for the Holiday Season

Nov 10, 2022

The holidays are almost here! Don't let them pass by in a blur; use these 4 key goals to help yourself and loved ones make the most of this special season.


How Would Jesus Navigate Politics Today?

Nov 07, 2022

How would Jesus navigate the political issues we face today?


Sustaining Hope in Egypt

Oct 31, 2022

Two Chase Oaks Partners work to sustain hope among Egypt's poor by creating economic opportunities for a better life. Read how they are helping people to thrive, post-Covid.


How To Find a Good Young Adults Ministry

Oct 19, 2022

Looking for a place to make some friends, find community, and grow in your faith as a young adult? Here are a few ideas to help you find your people.


Chasing Down Patience

Oct 18, 2022

Why is patience so hard to develop? Read one big reason why and find some practical steps to chase down this elusive virtue, here.


Halloween: A Time to Be a Good Neighbor

Oct 16, 2022

Halloween can be a perfect opportunity to be a good neighbor to those who live around us. Check out four fun and easy ideas right here:


Making a Difference One Resume at a Time

Oct 11, 2022

We can all make a difference. Read the inspiring story of one person who's using her skills to help people find jobs through the Local Good Center's Job Readiness program.