Marina Salsbury contributed this article.
High school graduates take significant care to select what they believe to be the right institutions of higher learning. Hours of examination and "comparison shopping" go into choosing a college, not only for the course curriculum but for the social life. Whether students intend to start working right after college, open online businesses, or pursue a PhD or other graduate education, which college to attend is one
Defining College Shock
Even with so much due diligence and sweat equity, high school graduates may be set back by the "shock" of actually entering the college environment. Despite poring over brochures, reading reviews, and consulting peers, family, and academic counselors, the actual experience of campus and college life vastly differs from individual preconception. Coming to terms with that difference (and with the new and likely higher demands on students) is the shock of college.
Fortunately, most colleges have programs in place to help new freshmen and transfers deal with so-called transfer shock. Orientations for incoming students help both new and transferring students deal with adjusting to their new environment. Meanwhile, academic support services will be available to students who find the new workload difficult. However, students themselves are the most important support for facing college shock.
How to Cope
Every student new to college must deal with some level of stress, but that's not a bad thing. Students who are able to manage normal amounts of stress will mature and be better prepared for life after college. Even if new college students are tasting independence and responsibility for themselves for the first time, it's not too late to begin developing good habits even if the shock has already set in:
* Get into a routine.
Most everyone feels more comfortable (or at least can work more efficiently) with a regular order for daily tasks. A routine means better planning and time management, and can provide a sense of security for students feeling overwhelmed.
* Prioritize studies.
This means embracing what you came to college for: an education. Though there are many distractions on campus, the main purpose is to learn and earn a degree. The social aspects of college are important too, but prioritizing schoolwork will keep you in control.
* Become involved in group activities.
Group activities not only provide stress relief, but often provide a satisfying sense of accomplishment separate from schoolwork. Students who feel good about themselves perform better academically.
* Eat well, sleep well.
College life can be hectic, and students finding themselves free to eat whatever they want and stay up as late as they want often exercise those freedoms a little too liberally. Healthy eating and sufficient sleep are nevertheless essential for health and focus.
The Phenomenon of Homecoming Shock
College shock, oddly enough, also works in reverse. Once students learn the ins and outs of college, they become comfortable. The new environment is no longer foreboding, social life is second nature, and academics are understandable and manageable. Students may return home after a few semesters and find so much has changed at home.
In reality, nothing has substantially changed except for perception, of course. Prior to going to college parents were in charge, but after being independent and successfully self-sufficient for awhile, students returning home might find the relationship remains unchanged in the eyes of their parents. In such situations, parents and their college-age children simply need to communicate a bit about how to live together again while the kids are home. They should mention any rules or boundaries that need to be respected, but also acknowledge that the student is now a more independent and (hopefully) responsible person.
With these thoughts and tips in mind, students can brace themselves for the shock of college life. Ultimately, it's up to them to deal with the transition, though they're not without help in doing so.
photo credit: whereisat