Beginning college students face a challenge. They are leaving the nest, but often not quite ready to make their own way. Finding themselves in a totally new environment, students can often feel overwhelmed and panicky. The first few weeks on campus can be a lonely experience, as the reality of separation from home and family sinks in. With sufficient time and effort, however, students begin to find friends and other sources of support in their new home. For some, this process is long and painful, and they may require the help of a counselor.
College is not a extension of high school in that students are seriously challenged to make the journey from dependence to independence and develop more mature relationships with diverse others and acquire other life skills. These tasks are not easy and don’t automatically happen because someone has reached a certain age. Increased personal freedom and responsibility can be both wonderful and terrifying. Many students have enjoyed a degree of independence before college, whereas others may have had no opportunity in this area.
Some students have difficulty adjusting to the academic demands of college. Compared to high school, college courses typically involve more reading and college exams and papers cover more material. Discipline and good time management, study habits, and test-taking skills are necessary for success. For some students, adding a heavy workload to a confusing and lonely social environment is more than they can bear.
To determine whether you as a student may have difficulties with homesickness and college adjustment, ask yourself the following:
- Did you need a lot of supervision at home (homework, chores, etc.)?
- Do your parents talk to other adults for you?
- Have you had problems with responsibility in work, groups, or teams?
- Do you lack self-confidence and assertiveness?
- Has peer pressure been a problem for you?
- Is it difficult for you to make or keep friends?
Students who believe they may have difficulties in this area should consider developing a strategy to overcome them. With the appropriate support of family, friends, and the professionals available at the Counseling Center, students can find that college need not remain an overwhelming or frightening experience. Call the Counseling Center at 348-3863 to set an appointment.