The College Transition: Dealing with Change

College is supposed to be one of the greatest times in your life…and for the most part, it will be. You will explore new environments, make new friends, and discover things about yourself that you never knew. However, in your transition to college life, you will be dealing with change.

Change is the only thing that is constant in life. People change jobs, schools, homes, etc. We can’t stop it. Sometimes it can be wonderful and other times not so much. Learning how to properly deal with that transition is very important. It’s a life skill. This is especially true in college where most major changes happen, like moving away from home, learning to take care of yourself, and many others. 

Here are 6 ways to help you easily transition to college life.

Yellow and orange leaves in a pile.

1. Embrace it

We are fully aware that this is easier said than done. However, it sets the foundation for everything else. The worst way to handle change is to fight it. Resistance is indeed futile. In college, it may seem like it’s all happening so fast. It can be a lot to handle. By embracing it, you are showing that you have control. There will be many times when we can’t control the things that happen to us, but we can always choose how we respond.

2. Find your outlet

Your outlet is a positive thing(s) you do to combat those feelings of stress, anxiety, and nervous energy. This is especially good to have if you’re far away from family and friends. Some people write in their journals, others take a walk or meditate, and some turn up the volume to dance and listen to music.

Try to dedicate some time to your positive outlet daily. Maybe 5 or 10 minutes at the start or the end of your day. Anytime you’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed, just take a moment and reset. You’ll be surprised what a difference that can make.

3. Take it one day at a time

You’ve heard that ‘slow and steady wins the race.’ Consider that when dealing with change. A big mistake we can sometimes make is expecting it to happen all at once. That’s an unrealistic expectation, and worrying about all the details that may or may not happen 6 months down the line next semester can add unnecessary stress to your plate. 

Real change takes time, it is a process. That said, don’t beat yourself up if it takes you a little more time to catch onto things. That’s normal in college and life. Even when it seems like people are getting ahead of you, or that you should be in this place because your friends are, try not to compare yourself. There are going to be days when it seems like everyone around you has it together. Everybody operates at different speeds. All you have to do is find yours.

College doesn’t come with an official blueprint. Your job is to focus on the next 24 hours in front of you and what you can control. One foot in front of the other. One day at a time soon enough you’ll get there.

4. Talk to Someone About Dealing with Change and the College Transition

This can be an older friend or family member who has successfully made it through college, the RA in your dorm, your advisor, or a professional. Most colleges and universities offer counseling services for students – and it may even be free! 

Talking to someone that has been through what you’re going through is very important. You can go to them with any questions, concerns, or advice, which in turn can help you feel less alone. 

5. Find the Positive in Change

Stay positive! A big part of dealing with change is how you respond to it. Negative thinking produces negative results. If you’re constantly dwelling on the way things were, worrying about what may come, or complaining about the present, then change will always be a burden. 

Instead, focus on the good. Look for new possibilities and the bright side. For example, you may not like that you have an 8 am class because you’re not a morning person. Flip that perspective. You may not consider yourself a morning person, but at least you can get that class out of the way early.

Positive thinking shifts your thoughts from the problem to the solution. The cliche is true: every cloud does have a silver lining. You just have to take the time and look for it. There’s some good in everything.

6. Plan Ahead

The switch from high school to college can be daunting, but when it comes to expected changes, planning can be a lifesaver! You can plan what you will take to your dorm, so you don’t have to worry about forgetting something. You can talk to your roommate ahead of time so you can get on the same page about decorating. And, if your professors send out your textbook requirements ahead of time, you can try getting a head start on the coursework.

Plan on how you’re going to deal with change, but make sure it’s not crossing that boundary between planning and stressing over the minute details. Remember to only handle what is in front of you – there are going to be things you can’t control or can’t plan for, and that’s okay!

Heading from high school to college can certainly feel daunting. You’re leaving lifelong friends, family members, your hometown, and the school district you’ve likely known since kindergarten for a college in another city where you likely don’t know many people if anyone. You’re also going to be taking on tougher schoolwork and making the first large step in your life. There’s no wonder students become frozen by all of these prospects!!

But knowing to control your stress, perceive change, and embrace the transition to college will make all the difference in the coming months – and for the entire college experience. Everyone will handle the change differently, and that’s okay. It may take your newfound friends only a couple of weeks to adjust, and you may find yourself settling in at the six-month mark. Just go at your own pace and embrace this exciting time in your life!

Part of planning for the college transition is choosing the right college. By selecting the right school for you, you can rest assured that you will be comfortable at your new home. College Raptor’s College Match tool allows you to input your wants, needs, and achievements to help you identify the best colleges for you. Get started for free here.

One thought on “The College Transition: Dealing with Change”

  1. aaron says:

    Dealing with the change has been hard for me. I have not had to provide everything on my own. I also am not very social so its hard for me to talk to someone.

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