Preparing for a fun-filled college adventure!
A day trip to Lagoon is a fun-filled adventure! The excited anticipation of the rides – the thrill and fear they bring. The sounds of people enthusiastically talking – both in passing time, waiting in long lines, and the jubilant exchanges after the ride is over. The speed of the coasters, gravity-defying movements, blur of colors, and action everywhere. The smell of burgers and fries, waffle cones, and hot pretzels. The refreshment of a cold drink and Dippin’ Dots. You don’t want the day to end, but as the sun begins to go down, the feeling of satisfaction and fatigue is real and you welcome the call of your comfortable bed.
A season at college for young adults is a life-changing experience! The nervous enthusiasm of starting a new chapter in life – both the dreaming and the dread. New friends and new classes. Confident venturing into unfamiliar buildings and landscapes. Novel self-reliance on finances, cooking, cleaning, and laundry. Adventuring to activities alone, without the familiarity of home and comfort of childhood friends. Being exposed to diverse ideas, people with varied upbringing and value systems, and having expansive dreams of the future. Days and nights are filled with fun, yet demand focus and perseverance. As the distant dream of graduation becomes a reality, the physical and mental exhaustion is real. The time spent in pursuing knowledge, skills, and friendships, however, can last a lifetime and has the potential to change you for the better – forever.
Whether you are dreaming of or dreading heading off to college, preparation will make this adventure more meaningful and fun. Here are some common challenges to consider when transitioning to college life:
- Living away from home. College facilitates decision-making skills, independent living, self-reliance, and responsibility. You will be staying in a tight living space with minimal storage. Less is more when it comes to packing. Bring items that can be shared.
- Managing your time and new found freedom. In college, it is your responsibility to go to class, do your homework and pass your tests. You will be tempted to stay out too late, eat differently, and party. You will need to figure out how to organize and motivate yourself, balance school, work, sports, social and religious activities. Use technology to get organized and schedule your time wisely. Learn to work your plan and plan your work.
- Navigating academic changes. College classes necessitate more reading, writing, and analysis than you may be used to. They typically require more papers, have tougher exams, and rarely give extra credit. Be proactive in the learning process. Meet with your professors, use college-tutoring labs, and find effective ways to study on your own and in groups.
- Feeling overwhelmed. At times you will feel overwhelmed. Set high, but realistic expectations for yourself and learn how to deal with stress, and pick yourself up after failing. Avoid substance use as it may lead to abuse and impaired decision-making. Change your habits or attitude when necessary and ask for help when you get stuck. Seek counseling services if you are feeling lonely or having a difficult time adjusting to college life, roommates or stress. If suicide is a concern, call 800-273-8255.
- Finding a major. It often takes time to figure out what you want to do with your life. Start with general education courses and work with a school counselor. Academic settings can do personalized testing to help you discover your talents and values which can point you in a career direction. Talking to professionals and job shadowing are beneficial. Remember, nothing is “perfect”. There will be pros and cons to every career.
- Avoiding drastic changes in nutrition and physical activity. Without careful attention to diet, many college students put on the dreaded freshman 15… or even more. Many students go from being very involved in sports or physical activities in high school to sitting longer in class, staying up later to study, and eating to stay awake. Physical activity needs to purposely be planned into your new lifestyle. Do not wait until you have time or “feel like it,” because you probably never will.
Use extreme caution with meal plans, eating out, and consuming empty calories (such as alcohol). Quick and easy foods are typically over-processed and loaded with calories. Create habits with nutrition and physical activity that will help you later in life. Remember, this is the only body you ever get.
- Learning how to budget. College is different from any kind of learning you have experienced before. You get to pay for the privilege of going to school! Be realistic about your expenses and plan for them. Honestly decide what you need and what things you want. Take a class on basic budgeting or seek guidance from a trustworthy source. Prioritize basic living expenses first groceries, cooking utensils, cleaning supplies, toiletries. Plan for academic requirements – textbooks, school supplies, and classes fees. Entertainment and relaxation are vital to personal balance and fulfillment but do not need to be costly. You are accountable for your finances. Keep records of school expenses for tax purposes.
- Avoiding infections or unplanned pregnancy. Abstinence or consistent use of condoms are the only ways to protect against sexually transmitted infections or unwanted pregnancy. Please ask your provider what is the best method for you. Be aware of date rape, increased incidence of sexual assault with substance use, and learn self-defense strategies and techniques to help prevent these conditions.
Make this season of your life a fun-filled adventure! Meet new friends, discover who you are, establish a strong foundation for your future career and become a life-long learner. Talk to a trusted friend, adult, or care provider if you have questions about going to college.
By Kristen Wright, FNP
Canyon View Women’s Care
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