For those of you who are leaving home in August for your first year of college congratulations! You are about to enter an exciting time of your life. A time of new places, new people and new experiences. Fear is natural, I certainly experienced it, but trust me when I say that “the outcome is life changing”. Looking back at my own college experience I realize that this was a time in which I got to really know me. To find out what I was made of. Too become more independent and mature. It was a shock at first, to say the least, as there were many changes all at once. A large campus, living in a small dorm room, many strangers around me, multiple distractions, freedom from parents telling me what to do, having my own schedule and responsibilities that I hadn’t had before. It took some time to adjust but I did. Looking back it would have been nice to have some tips to prepare. So here are some tips to prepare for your culture shock:
1. If you haven’t done so yet visit your college. Get as much information as you can about your college. The size of the campus, what the dorm rooms are like, how many people you will be living with, food/laundry/health services, modes of transportation and campus activities.
2. If you know who your roommate(s) are reach out and begin building a relationship. Get to know each other. Your mutual likes/dislikes. Goals for college. Make sure you are compatible.
3. Read all of the orientation material your college has. Watch any available videos. Talk to the peer mentors and listen to their experiences. Talk to alumni about their experiences. Ask questions.
4. Begin preparing yourself for how you will handle increased freedom. If discipline is an area that is weak for you start working on this skill before you leave home. Start making and accomplishing daily goals; create a schedule and stick to it; rely less on others and more on yourself for accountability.
5. Begin preparing for how you will stay focused on your college goals despite distractions. There is a lot of noise, drama and temptation on college campuses. Start planning how you will balance your college and social goals; identify the areas on campus where you can go that is less distracting for study; refine your abilities to identify the more serious students; work on saying no.
6. Begin preparing for independence. Waking up on your own, cooking, cleaning and laundry are tasks freshman have to get used to if they haven’t done it before.
If you follow these tips and work on any needed skills ahead of time, you will experience less of a culture shock when you arrive to your college campus and as a result have an easier adjustment. Again congratulations and good luck!
Mark Levinsky, LMHC is a licensed psychotherapist, life coach and personal development instructor specializing in assisting high school students successfully transition into college. For the past five years he worked in a university based counseling center as a psychotherapist assisting clients in adjusting to and navigating through their college experience. To work with Mark as your coach for college success, call or text him at 954-547-8416 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.