1. We’re all in this together:
Remember you are surrounded by peers who are in your same position. You are all new to this. This life transition is not unique to you. Everyone shares your same excitement and fears. Everyone will adjust to college living differently. Remember that everyone has a different personality and you will not mesh with each individual. Just do you but be welcoming to others.
2. A smile goes a long way:
Extend yourself beyond your comfort zone. Smile. If you see someone sitting alone in the dining hall (“caf”), sit close to them. Start with making eye contact and simply ask how their semester is going. Do not bury your head in your cellular devices while on campus. Open your eyes and ears to what is around you. Engage. Ask questions. Ask about dorm living. Ask about classes. Ask about summer. Making new friends takes effort and stepping beyond what feels comfortable. Nine times out of ten, you will be received positively. That tenth one? Let it be.
3. Get it together now:
Get organized and develop a routine right away. Decide which method you will respond best to when it comes to prioritizing and planning your studies and activities. Do not get fooled by all of your extra time. Time in college has to be managed. It is not the same as in high school because college requires you to be productive with your time. Waiting to study will come back to haunt you. You should spend 2 hours studying or reviewing for every one hour class. It is wise to switch subjects every two hours while studying. Quickly decide how and where you best study and stick with this method (group versus alone, isolated or high traffic). Choose your most effective study space. Make use of cubicles if easily distracted. Avoid distractions and time wasters. Procrastination is your enemy. Study when you are most alert and rested. Put cell phones on airplane mode. Take deep breathing breaks every hours to refresh the brain and body.
4. Just something you gotta do:
Reach out to professors, advisors, and TAs immediately. Go to their office hours and introduce yourself. Invite a classmate to go with you – a buddy system. Make yourself known, especially at a large university. Being visible and available is a great way to meet people. Make good use of the library and other campus spaces. Make good use of managing time in between classes.
5. Listen to your parents:
You’ve heard it a million times. Keep close tabs on sleep, diet, and wasted time. Don’t let these important wellness aspects fall to the wayside. Too many things can happen. Research shows that teens spend something like 4-6 hours a day on their cell phones, playing video games and watching TV. You should be getting 8 hours of sleep a night. Naps can interfere with night sleep but may be necessary. Diet is always your backbone to health. Pay close attention to your health and happiness.
6. Don’t wait to be found:
Make yourself known on your hallway, in your dorm. Go room to room and introduce yourself even if it scares you. Keep your dorm door open. Make the effort to do something fun, silly and engaging for your hall mates (movie night, art in the common space, Frisbee hour, coffee in the room). Acquaintances and friendships will be your support for the next year. Reach out. Find others who have similar class schedules and invite them to eat with you. Keep the bond.
BONUS TIP: Make sure you self-regulate. This means be able to read your mind and body and being able to adjust, change, and adapt to what is happening in and around you. When you feel overwhelmed, act. Seek help. Talk to someone - anyone. Chose a decompression activity. Put everything down and walk outside. Go to the wellness center. Ask someone to get a smoothie. When you feel sad, make a plan to work through the emotion. When you experience anxiety, engage your logical brain by telling yourself what you’re thinking and feeling is most likely not true. Do not engage in anxious thoughts. Celebrate small wins. Smile. Be patient. It will all be okay. You are right where you need to be.