Many people will tell you that college was the best time of their lives, and movies certainly make that seem the case. We at EDGE Counseling Solutions hope that you have a fantastic time getting to know new people, learning information that is of interest to you, and pursuing opportunities you may not have had before. That said, you may run into some expected difficulties (e.g., finals) or that take you by surprise. With so many new things going on for most entering college students, including learning a new area, managing coursework, and taking on some “adulting” tasks (e.g., laundry, bills, appointments), there can be a steep learning curve. And all of this is on top of finding a group of people you trust so that you can create your own social support network in this new place.
If you are struggling, or even better, if you want to prepare yourself in advance of running into stressors, I strongly encourage you to reach out for support. These efforts include talking to your family and friends from home, as well as opening up to new people at school. You can talk to your professors, as well as your Resident Advisor or Housing staff if you are living on campus. You can also set up an appointment with a therapist in the area, as well as through the school (e.g., Student Services, University Counseling Center, Psychology Clinic). Every school is a bit different, but there should be some options available for therapy services, some of which are free, and can give you some support when it is needed. The best part about meeting someone in advance of a stressor, much less a crisis, is that it makes it easier to reach out to set up an appointment when you are in a difficult situation because you already have some familiarity with a therapist. Not surprisingly, I am strong proponent for therapy, and encourage you to take advantage of it while it is readily accessible (and free!)
One of the most freeing, and also possibly overwhelming, parts of college vs high school is that you have more choice with respect to the activities available and people with whom you spend time. Because there is so much to do and so many people to see, you have more options, and more freedom to change course if something is not clicking. I know very few people who followed a straight line of exactly what they wanted when entering college (including me!), and the beauty of trying lots of different things (e.g., classes, activities, performances, friend groups) is that you get direct experience with them that helps you to narrow your preferences down. Figuring out what way you want to go more generally by getting some gentle course correction through the actual experiences you have is an exciting and empowering way to move towards your future goals on the path that you choose, no matter how winding – and even sometimes bumpy – it may be. Best of luck on your new adventures at school and be sure to let us know at EDGE Counseling Solutions if we can be of help as you step into this new chapter of your life.