University of Southern Indiana

Transitioning to College

CollegeFor many of you, this may be your first experience living away from home for an extended period of time, and your usual sources of support may no longer be present. Here are some tips that may help:

  • The first few weeks on campus can be a lonely period, and you may have concerns about forming friendships. When you look around it may seem that everyone else is self-confident and socially successful - the reality is that everyone is having the same concerns.
  • If you allow sufficient time, you can usually find peers to help provide structure and a support system. The important thing to remember when meeting new people is the old cliché “be yourself.” Also, don’t expect meaningful, new relationships to develop overnight. It took a great deal of time to develop your previous friendships; the same will be true of new friendships.
  • Increased personal freedom can be both wonderful and frightening. You are able to come and go as you choose, with no one to “hassle” you. At the same time, things are no longer predictable. The strange environment, with new kinds of procedures and new people, can create the sense of being on an emotional roller coaster. This is very normal and to be expected.
  • Living with roommates can also present special, sometimes intense, problems. Negotiating respect for personal property, personal space, sleep, and relaxation needs may become a complex task. This complexity increases when your roommates are of different backgrounds with different values. Communicating your needs calmly, listening with respect to your roommate’s concerns, and being willing to compromise to meet each other’s needs, can promote resolution of issues.
  • It is unrealistic to expect roommates to become best friends, and hopefully, you and your roommate(s) will work out mutually satisfying living arrangements. But, the reality is that you each may have your own circle of friends.
  • Leaving home to attend school is both exciting and challenging. Homesickness is very normal and is experienced by the majority of students who leave home for the first time. Even if you have spent time away from home previously, you are not immune from the loneliness, self-doubt, concentration difficulties, and preoccupation with home that characterizes homesickness. Here are some basic strategies which have proven effective for many students:
    1. Remember, homesickness is usually temporary - give yourself time to adjust.
    2. Get involved (with other students, classes, and student activities). The sooner you adapt to your new surroundings, the less intense your feelings of discomfort will become.
    3. Call or write home, but avoid going home every weekend. This is especially important during the beginning of the school year when many clubs, organizations and activities are just getting started. This is your opportunity to make new friends, many of whom are in the same boat.
    4. Talk out your feelings with a counselor, friend, or resident assistant. Just giving voice to your feelings can sometimes provide a new perspective and create a sense of relief.

Additional Resources

The Transition Year

Transition Year StudentThe Transition Year website is an excellent resource for additional information for helping students make a smooth transition to college life. Separate websites are available to students and parents.


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