Adjusting to Changes

The transition to college, and being in college by itself, presents a lot of opportunities where you have to adjust. There are a lot of important decisions, challenges, risks, and new experiences. It also involves adjusting to a new environment, people, living situation, roommates, creating a schedule, managing your time, going to classes, etc. You may be transitioning to college from high school, from another university, or coming back to school after a break. There are lots of changes and transitions during your time in college. Even if you are well prepared and ready for the transition, it is common to experience a variety of symptoms related to the adjustment. It may even surprise you by how stressful the transition feels.

Common Reactions to Major Life Changes

  • Sadness
  • Anxiety and worry
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Lack of motivation
  • Increased substance use
  • Increased emotionality
  • Feeling alone

The good news is that these reactions are normal and nearly every college student experiences some difficulty. For most people, these problems will go away within a couple of months. However, if you'd prefer to take a more proactive approach toward feeling better, you can take this free, online self-assessment to gather more information about your symptoms. You can also try some of the strategies below.

What You Can Do If You’re Having Problems Adjusting to USA

There are a couple of strategies to employ to assist your transition to college.

  • Social support & friendship – It is important to get involved with others on campus so that you can feel like you belong. Not only does peer support and friendship help with the adjustment, but you’ll also find ways that others are using to cope with the transition. Find a club, organization, or activity where you share an interest, passion, or identity. Getting involved on campus also increases your attachment to the university.
  • Problem-focused coping – This is helpful when specific issues are challenging (e.g. academic concerns, living situation, etc) and there is a problem to solve or an action to take. Don’t avoid these situations and hope it will get better on its own. Go to office hours, talk to your RA, schedule an appointment with your advisor, visit Financial Aid, ask questions, gather information, and come up with a solution. If you don’t get a helpful answer the first time, find another person to ask. These kind of issues require perseverance and a plan.
  • Emotion-focused coping – This is helpful when you are trying to manage distressing emotions, like grief, loss, or homesickness. Social support and accessing family during this time are extremely important. Make sure to take time for self-care. These kind of issues require support and patience.

Finally, one of the best predictors of how students adjust to college challenges is their perspective. Students who approach situations with optimism adjust better than those who are pessimistic. Try to remind yourself to view the situations as opportunities for growth, a chance to learn new things, and a way to practice becoming more resilient.