Mid-semester Changes: How to Cope
By now, students are settled into their residence hall room or apartment, know their way to all their classes and are starting to get the hang of college life. Students might have noticed that there’s a bit of an adjustment process, a lot of changes and many new responsibilities to manage. Here are some general tips for students to ease into their college experience and getting on the track to success early.
There will be a lot of changes both this year and through the college career.
Students have a lot of freedom they may never have had before. There are also a lot of new responsibilities and a lot of new information and skills. Students are learning to better manage time, make meaningful connections with other students and professors and branching out and growing.
College allows students to learn who they are and who that want to be. That might mean that a lot of the relationships students have had before now may change as they grow and form a new identity. Students could even find that family interactions on visits home or holidays are a bit different than they have been in the past. By keeping in touch and sharing their new experiences with important people in their life, they will fight homesickness and deepen those relationships despite the distance.
Students should address homesickness
Whether because of a move or a trip, almost everyone is homesick a one point or another. Homesickness can creep up on students, even if they didn’t feel it right away. Everyone processes leaving their home and family for school a bit differently. Students may be tempted to ignore homesickness, but there are some things they can do to help minimize it:
- Consider limiting trips home. It seems counter intuitive but being on campus, especially during weekends when a lot of social activities happen, is essential to adjusting, making friends and not missing home quite as much. Students will also get more familiar with campus and discover new places they like spending time.
- Know that it’s normal to be homesick and even if they aren’t talking about it, other people are experiencing it too.
- Get involved on campus and find friends with whom to connect. More on both of these topics below.
- Students who are still struggling or feeling that they just can’t adapt and are questioning whether college is for them should consider talking to their advisor or making an appointment with the Counseling and Testing Center.
Students need to recognize that they’re going to make mistakes, and that’s okay!
Some people are naturally more perfectionist than others, but it’s pretty easy to agree that no one likes being wrong. Students are embarking on a new journey and may be using a lot of new skills. It’s important for students to realize they’re going to make mistakes. Whether it’s missing a deadline, forgetting about and failing a test or getting in a fight with their roommate over nothing, students will make mistakes. Here there’s no one on whom to push off the blame. College is a great opportunity for students to learn to be accountable for themselves, to own mistakes and to learn to apologize and make things right. It doesn’t always feel great, but students who learn to deal with the times they’re less than perfect now will be able to deal better with them for the rest of their lives.
Students need to set themselves up for academic success.
At this point, students might be getting an idea of which classes will be challenging and whether they’re going to struggle with their course load. Students who have concerns should reach out to their professors early and often, so they can get help before their grades suffer. It can be intimidating, but professors are there to help and want students to succeed. It’s also a good idea for students to start actively building their organization and time management skills. There are lots of tools and online resources that can help students, and students can find what works best for them. Some students may never have had to study much before now and don’t know where to start. This is a great article to help with study basics.
Students need to remember they can choose their friends and find like-minded people.
One of the best things about college is there are so many opportunities to meet new people. The first people students are likely to meet are their roommates, people at orientation and the first person they sit next to in class. These might be life-long friendships. Students who don’t think they’ve found the right people for them yet can get involved on campus and keep looking.
Students should be aware that at some point they may find themselves isolated in response to all the changes in their life. It’s easy to let midterm and finals stress take over and spend more and more time alone, especially for students who are having trouble making friends with whom they can really connect. Investing in a social life is important self-care. Having friends who can be study buddies will make big projects, midterms and finals a bit less stressful.
Some great ways to make friends include:
- Getting out of the dorm room to explore campus more.
- Join a club focused on something the student is passionate about.
- Spend time getting to know people. Avoid quick judgements.
- Make a real effort to talk to classmates before and after class. Students who make friends with other students in their major will ensure that they have someone to study with later and with whom they probably already have a lot in common.
Students have a lot of services at their disposal and great options for how to get involved on campus.
Students can check with their resident assistant. They know how to get students the resources they need and can help with lots of things students might have been putting off asking about.
There are also academic services available. Student Success provides supplemental instruction and workshops. They also maintain a list of additional academic resources, including the Writing Studio and Mathematics Assistance Complex.
Now that students have a better idea how much free time they’ll have, it is a great time to get involved in student organizations. Students can search for student organizations on Orgsync or look around the Student Center for event flyers.
Also consider ways to get off campus once in a while. Touch the Earth provides many activity opportunities for students and with all of the museums and events Atlanta has to offer students can treat themselves to a break and change of scenery.