Adjusting to College

What is it?

College is an exciting time of life.  Beginning college provides many opportunities for growth and new experiences.  However, the transition to college is an adjustment for all students.  Most students encounter obstacles or difficulties that they did not anticipate.  Leaving home to go to college can be a stressful experience.  You feel sad, uncomfortable, and homesick.  You may also not feel secure in your new environment.  Furthermore, adapting to the increased academic demands is a challenge for many students.  You may find that it is difficult to balance work, family, and school, leaving little time for rest or relaxation.  Your role in your family may also have to undergo some changes as you shift into a student role, which can cause increased stress for yourself and family members.  These experiences and feelings are a normal part of the developmental transition to college.  Keep this in mind: Struggling is not a sign of weakness or failure.  In fact, struggling is usually the first step of developing a new strength or coping strategy.    

What Symptoms Might You Notice?

  • Anxiety
  • Depressed mood
  • Difficulty adjusting to increased academic demands
  • Difficulty with time management
  • Frequent calls to loved ones at home 
  • Homesickness 
  • Isolation
  • Loneliness
  • Sadness
  • Trouble fitting in

Your Mental Health in College | Crash Course

Your Mental Health in College | Crash Course

How Prevalent are adjustment issues?

  • Approximately 71.4% of students reported that they “occasionally” or “frequently” felt lonely or homesick (Bates & Bourke, 2016).
  • Approximately 35.1% of students reported that the transition to college academics was a difficult process for them (Bates & Bourke, 2016).

Things you can do to adjust to GVSU:

If you are struggling with the transition to college, there are several things that you can do to make the adjustment a little bit easier.  

  • Increase your campus involvement by taking advantage of the resources offered on campus.  Attend events on campus or join a club or organization to build connections and make new friends.  Many students are able to find clubs or organizations that appeal to them.  These experiences will help you meet and interact with others who share similar identities and/or interests.    
  • Seek support when needed.  Seek out people who understand what you are going through, such as an advisor, RA, or counselor.    
  • Prioritize self-care.  Make sure that you include time to rest, eat, and exercise.  
  • Seek out resources on campus that can help you address academic and personal challenges.  These resources include, but are not limited to, your advisor, the University Counseling Center, the Career Center, the Student Academic Success Center, and Disability Support Services. 
  • Be realistic about your expectations of college.  Expecting things to be perfect or to feel great all of the time may set you up for disappointment.  Know that it is normal to experience some discomfort during this time.  
  • Be patient.  Allow time to get used to your new environment.  
  • Ask for help. 

Page last modified February 7, 2024