College: Surviving and Thriving Freshman Year

collegeBy Jacquie Eubanks BSN, RN

Starting the freshman year of college can be exciting, a bit daunting and very overwhelming.  Will I like my roommate?  What will my professors expect of me?  How do I negotiate around campus?  Will I be able to handle my finances?  These are but a few of the questions that can make many students anxious.  During this transition into adulthood, students will be making critical decisions and handling a lot of independence for the first time.  Choices that are made now will have an impact on the balance of their college experience.  Many of the tools, skills, and habits developed during the freshman year can help students, not only in school but in their future careers as well.  Students may start the year with advice from parents, former teachers, friends, or siblings who want to share their own experiences.  Here are some traditional tips for incoming freshmen:

  • Contact roommates ahead of time.  Emailing or having a few conversations helps to break the ice so you are not complete strangers when you meet.  Plus, dorm rooms are typically very small so this also gives you the opportunity to decide what everyone is bringing ahead of time.  If concerns should arise about your roommate, try to address them and work them out before they become major issues.  Figure out what works for you and be accommodating to others as well. 
  • Remember you are not alone.  Everyone in your dorm is in the same boat as you.  This is the time to introduce yourself to your dorm mates.  Students who leave their doors open are inviting people to visit but don’t limit yourself to floor mates.  There’s an entire student body of potential friends out there.  Try to talk to as many students as possible during the first few weeks. 
  • You may experience homesickness.  New beginnings can be bumpy and it’s normal to miss your family and friends.  Your family will be missing you as well.  Stay in touch through phone calls, emails, texts and social media.  Quick emails at the end of the day are a good way to touch base and keep everyone up to date.  If you live close to home, try not to run home every time you get lonely.  Homesickness can be difficult to handle but it normally passes as you make new friends and get involved in interesting activities.  The more time you spend making new connections, the faster the homesickness will  fade away. 
  • Attend all the orientations.  The faster you learn your way around campus and discover the available resources your college has to offer, the smoother your transition will be. 
  • Meet with your advisor at the first opportunity.  Your advisor is the key resource person who will help with scheduling, course conflicts and decisions about majors and minors.
  • Get to know your professors and establish a relationship.  Take advantage of the time professors set aside to meet with students.  Building on that relationship may serve you well when you need advice and recommendations.  Professors are there to help you succeed. 
  • Your first responsibility is to attend classes.  If you know you are not a morning person, don’t schedule early morning classes.  Professors do notice when you are not in attendance plus you could miss crucial test information or extra credit for attending. 
  • Eat mindfully and be physically active to avoid the dreaded “freshman 15.”  Many schools offer all you can eat buffets.  Fill up on salads, vegetables, fruits and proteins and avoid the second trip down the line.  It may be hard to resist, but late night pizza deliveries can add a lot of extra calories.  There are many ways to exercise on campus.  Simply walking from class to class qualifies, as do pick-up games of softball or frisbee.  There’s usually someone available for a game of tennis or a trip to the fitness center.  Many students rely on bicycles for transportation.  You can participate in lots of activities each day that will help stave off extra pounds. 
  • Get involved in college activities but don’t overdo.  Colleges offer many activities that seem fascinating or are career oriented.  Pare down your choices to pursue what really interests you and where you’ll meet new people with similar interests.  You’ll need fun and engaging activities to help you cope with the stress of academics, social life or money management. 
  • Locate good places on campus to study.  Staying in your room to study isn’t always the best idea as there can be too many distractions.  A quiet nook in the library may work better for you or check out the graduate school libraries which are often less crowded and where you’ll be less likely to run into someone you know.  When possible, get out into nature.  Being outside is restorative and cognitively refreshing. 
  • Binge drinking is a huge problem on college campuses.  If you do decide to drink, moderation is the key even though there may be intense pressure to drink to excess.  Avoid peer pressure to drink more by stating your wishes in a clear and confident tone.  You don’t need to make excuses to do what you think is right.  Limit your party time to weekends to allow time for academics, some down time, and fun things you like to do. 
  • Keep an eye on your safety.  Make sure your dorm room and residence hall are locked at all times.  Use the campus escort services at night and use the buddy system.  Put emergency numbers in your cell phone and call the campus police at the first sign of trouble.  Make sure your roommate or a friend knows where you are when you go out to a party or on a date. 
  • Create a calendar and use it.  Professors often post assignments for the entire semester at the beginning of the course so you will know exactly what is expected of you.  You’ll need to be organized so you know when assignments are due.  Procrastinating on assignments doesn’t work in college.  Create routines, generate deadlines and get your work done before you play. 

College is one of the greatest opportunities you’ll ever have for personal development. This is the time to step out of your comfort zone and take advantage of all the college has to offer.  Have fun but not at the expense of your education or your health.  Most colleges have health and counseling centers for students should you need help or advice.  Give yourself time to adjust to your new life and schedule.  Remember, balance is the key.  There may be times when starting college seems overwhelming but once you’ve had some time to adjust, you’ll likely do just fine. 

Supplements for active young adults:

Multigenics by Metagenics –  This comprehensive multiple vitamin and mineral formula provides a nutritional foundation for optimal health. 

Athletic Nutrients by Pure Encapsulations – This multivitamin/mineral complex is designed for exercise performance and training, promotes energy and stamina, and reduces muscle fatigue.  This formula is  hypo-allergenic, nutrient rich, and highly bioavailable. 

B Complex + Minerals by Douglas Laboratories –  This formulation provides the full range of essential B vitamins plus minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium. 

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