Transition Tips

Transition Tips for New Students and Parents

 

New Students:

The first day of your first year of college will most likely be one of the most confusing and exciting times of your life. You will feel pulled in many different directions and your emotions will be overflowing. You will be looking forward to freedom and independence, meeting your roommate, exploring campus and starting classes. But you may already miss your bedroom, your friends, and your parents. You are not alone. As ecstatic as everyone around you appears, they all feel the same way you do; scared. What you are experiencing is normal and healthy. The next four (or more) years of your life will be a period of self-growth and exploration and this journey begins the moment you arrive at school. Beginning college means making huge changes and learning to adjust to an entirely new way of living. The following are some suggestions that may help you begin your journey in a strong and optimistic way.

  • Manage your time wisely: Can you believe it, no more eight hour school days! You might even have an entire day with no classes. Time to do nothing? Wrong! It is important to set boundaries and create schedules early. One of the easiest ways to fall short of your goals is to waste time. Writing your schedule down and setting aside daily study time can really help.

  • Get involved early: Go to campus activities fairs. Find at least one club that you think might be fun. Eat your meals in the dining halls. Keep your door open in the halls while you are studying as a way to meet new friends. College is the time to make new friends. It can by scary-chances are you have been going to school everyday with the same people for years. The thought of starting over is overwhelming. Just remember everyone is in the same place. Be brave!

  • Expect Stress: You are no longer in high school. The same ways of studying may not work. Don’t get discouraged-just try something new. Study in groups or ask your professor or advisor for suggestions. Stress is normal and sometimes necessary to get motivated. Find ways to minimize stress and take time out for you. Just as you are going to schedule time for studying, make sure you schedule time for yourself. You cannot run on empty. Take time out to refuel so that you can be more productive.

  • Money: For many of you this will be the first time you need to learn to set your own budget. If you are coming to school with a set amount of money, work out a monthly or weekly budget before you arrive. Make sure you have a plan and stick to it. Things to think about are: who is going to pay for books and supplies, gas, campus events, and spring break. Stay away from credit cards. You will undoubtedly be bombarded with credit card offers. This can be tempting but use caution. Credit cards and the promise of nice new things can quickly turn into unmanageable debt and bad credit. Proceed with caution if you choose to apply.

  • Roommates: Many of you have never shared a room and, if you have, it was probably not with a complete stranger. This can be challenging. Respect your roommate’s differences and seek out hall staff if you start to have conflicts. Communication is the key. Although it can be difficult to initiate, if things start to get stressful, talk about it. Silence and gossiping to other people on the floor only makes the situation worse.

  • Homesickness: As hard as it is to believe, you will, at least for some period of time, feel homesick. You will miss your family, your friends, your house and more importantly “the way things used to be”. This is a normal part of adjusting to college. You will be learning a great deal about yourself and asking yourself many questions. This can be overwhelming and confusing. As a result you will want things to return to the way they were before college. You are not the only one. Talk to your friends or family. There are also people on campus that can help.

These are just a few things to think about before you begin your journey. You will learn a great deal about yourself. This can be a hard time. You might want to meet with someone to discuss your questions or concerns. This is a period of self-discovery and it is very healthy to seek out support through counseling. Truman State University has confidential counseling services available to all students. Contact University Counseling Services at (660) 785-4014.

Parents:

Your son or daughter is preparing to leave for college or maybe he/she has recently left. You drive back home with an empty spot in the car and arrive to an empty bed in the house. What can you expect? You will undoubtedly be filled with very confusing emotions. You are excited, scared, sad, and shocked! Are they ready to set their own schedules, will they get enough sleep and will they eat healthy foods? At first, probably not! This doesn’t mean that they will not learn. What you are feeling is normal and expected. The following are a few suggestions that might help make this transition period easier.

  • Trust your student: You raised them and they were accepted at Truman State University because of their hard work and dedication. Trust that your student will remember the lessons you taught them.

  • Get comfortable giving up some control: You will no longer be able to set curfews, check out friends or fix daily meals. This will be hard to get used to. Give your student space and respect their need for independence. As confident as they seem, they are as scared as you. If you support and listen to them, they will come to you when they need help.

  • Realize that your student is scared and confused: Respect their need to explore themselves. Do not laugh at new ideas or stifle new found creativity. They are developing their adult role and need freedom to try on many hats.

  • Expect some homesickness and stress: If they call you crying and miserable, do not immediately drive to campus and bring them home. Help them by listening and pointing them in the right direction. Helping them succeed and make it through the first year will give them an unbelievable sense of accomplishment. They can do it on their own. In order for them to believe this you must believe it first.

  • Know the signs of more serious issues: Sometimes first year students can become depressed. Has your student stopped going to class? Is he/she isolating him/herself? Has his/her diet changed? Is he/she sleeping all the time? Is your student acting hopeless or has your student lost all motivation to succeed? These can be warning signs of a more serious situation. Talk to your student, listen to them and contact University Counseling Services for more advice.

  • Encourage your student to get involved in organizations and activities on campus:Academics are important but finding a healthy balance is necessary for success.

  • Prepare your student for ups and downs: College can be hard and overwhelming. Do not set them up to feel like they failed if they are struggling.

It can be a challenge letting your student go and allowing him/her to make mistakes. Watching them change into an independent adult is scary. Remember that their roots are strong and they will prosper if you give them freedom, time, space and support to grow.