College life can be rough, especially if you’re in a dorm or moved out on your own for the first time–that’s the hardest. College sounds really exciting until you realize your parents aren’t making breakfast in the morning or helping with laundry anymore. For some, transitioning from high school to college is difficult too–going from 7am-3pm classes to being able to choose your schedule. Or, simply being in a new school, new environment, with new classmates. It can all be a bit overwhelming. Think bullying stops in high school? It doesn’t, and that can add to the overwhelm. After two years of college experience, here are some college survival tips for you (or your friend, sibling, child, cousin or grandchild) that I wish I knew when I first started.
Familiarize yourself with the layout of your campus. Some colleges have emergency phones for students to be able to quickly report an on-campus emergency. My school has a couple. I’ve never had to use them, but I’ve heard they come in handy.
Also familiarize yourself with emergency exits, which I know may sound silly, but in the event of an emergency it’s important to know a safe way to exit a building. Make sure you know about the security department and what services they offer. My school has an emergency system set up so that students get text message and email alerts on campus closings, weather updates, evacuations, etc.
Review your student manual–you know, that thing you shoved into a drawer in your desk or a shelf in your closet? Revisit that and look over your rights as a student, because those are important to know in order to spot and report any violations.
Transitioning & Coping
Transitioning to living on your own can be difficult, stressful and cause anxiety. I’ve been battling anxiety since high school so I understand it all, and I’ve learned several ways to cope.
1) Ground yourself. This is a tool I use in extreme cases of anxiety in which I start to feel the walls closing in.
The first thing to do is to drink water. This takes your focus off of the trigger and more on the water, which can help distract you.
2) Next, use your sense of touch or smell. Physically touch something solid so that you pull yourself back to reality. For smell, I recommend spraying perfume and focusing on the scent, or even aromatherapy. I carry a small capsule of lavender-scented oil that helps soothe me.
3) In less extreme cases of anxiety or nervousness in a new place, just slowly melt into it. Slowly allow yourself to get comfortable and take it day by day, because you won’t feel unsettled forever. I promise.
Here’s my all-time favorite lesson and one of the most important when it comes to your workload: plan ahead. I can’t stress this enough–get a planner, a notebook, anything that works for you, and write down all of your assignments for the week. Take it one week at a time, and make sure to include the deadlines. When it comes to note taking, write key points, short summaries, important names, dates, and vocabulary. I suggest using highlighters and different-color pens because this helps you actually enjoy the note taking process and helps your brain actually want to read the material versus seeing the usual black and white.
Having a roommate or multiple roommates can be challenging, especially when you don’t know each other. Therefore, try and establish some sort of communication to keep everyone in the loop with everything. I also recommend getting a calendar to keep in the common area so everyone can see if, for example, someone set a study time where they need to be alone. Maybe incorporate your class schedules into the calendar, and delegate different chores to everyone so the load is equal and fair. Create a group chat to keep everyone up to date on visitors, or if you need to have a meeting with everyone for any reason. It’s important to establish communication with the person or people you are living with in order to limit any issues that could arise.
Overall, college life is definitely difficult, but with time things will become easier and more comfortable. Just take it all one step at a time, stay motivated, put your best effort into everything you do, and you’ll conquer that degree before know it.
Raquel Paredes is a Florida National News contributor. | firstname.lastname@example.org