Freshman Survival Guide - What You Need To Know
August 22, 2011
by Julia Campbell
So, you've been accepted to college, you know who your roommate is and you're probably making plans to decorate your dorm room. Before you know it, you'll be moving away from home. For many first-year students, this will be the first time they have been away from their family. It is a scary and exhilarating time in most young people's lives. Will I be homesick, will I make new friends, what if my roommate and I don't get along?
Fear not, for this guide is designed to help make the transition from home life to college life as painless as possible.
Preparing to leave the nest
Before students leave their parents, it is important that everyone prepares for the separation. Pauline Dobrowski, associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students for Stonehill College, recommended that parents talk about the upcoming year with their student.
"We encourage parents to talk to their students about the transition...things such as how you plan to communicate," she said. "Just as students need to plan on transitions, so do parents."
Jeanne Horrigan, director of new students at UMass-Ahmerst, suggested students learn how to do things like laundry and other day-to-day chores before they leave home. Parents should also address money management with their child, Horrigan said.
Making friends and getting involved
Cecelia Franzini, a resident of Pembroke and entering her sophomore year at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, said that she went into her freshman year with no expectations.
My experience far surpassed anything I could've hoped for," Franzini said, adding that getting involved is a good way to make friends.
Colleges offer an abundance of clubs, teams and organizations. Sarah Neill, who is the dean of student life at Simmons College has an involvement requirement for first-semester freshman.
"Students who are successful feel connected outside of classes," Neill said.
Taking care of yourself
Dorm rooms have pesky habit of collecting dust and other gross things. As Dobrowski pointed out, mom is not there to dust the desk or change the sheets on your bed anymore; if you want to be clean, you have to do it yourself.
In addition to taking care of the room, both Neill and Dobrowski said it is important for students to take care of themselves. It is easy to fill up on junk food, but keeping a healthy lifestyle will help you stay focused and stay well. Neill added that the most common problems she sees on campus are unhealthy sleeping habits and eating disorders.
"Students really need to work on balancing their time as the schedules are different here," Dobrowski advised.
Neill said that students who are struggling academically should look into the tutoring services the school offers.
"They should become informed on what support resources are available... don't hesitate to reach out and ask for support," she said.
"We tell them to stay on top of the work and address things right away so issues don't build," Horrigan said.
To help students understand the importance of going to class and being responsible, Horrigan advises them to "look at the college coursework as a fulltime job."
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