Common First Year Challenges
Homesickness: While each student may feel like s/he is the only one experiencing homesickness, the truth is that the majority of college students suffer from homesickness at one time or another, typically during the first semester. Going to college and learning to live in a new setting may be a difficult transition. Despite the excitement of making new friends, it's common for students to miss old friends, family, and the security of home and a familiar community.
The fact that everyone feels this way doesn't make it any easier, but as a parent it's important to recognize that this common complaint is part of the growth experience. It may be tempting to encourage your student to come home for a visit, but the best way to overcome homesickness is to stay on campus, get involved, and grit one's teeth until the uncomfortable feelings give way to a new sense of independence and belonging.
Task and Time Management: Time Management may very well be the number one challenge for new (and continuing) college students. High school is very structured, with most blocks of time during the day pre-scheduled for students. College life is different. Course schedules vary from student to student, from day to day, and from semester to semester. Students may have more classes on certain days, with more free time on others. They may have only morning classes, or no classes until after lunch. And overall, college students spend significantly less time in the classroom than they did in high school.
That doesn't mean that they shouldn't be working more though! There is much more "out-of-classroom" work expected in college, which means that students need to make sure they are scheduling enough study time to support their in-class work. We encourage students struggling with task and time management to visit Learning Support Services in the Loft on the 5th floor of the Library.
Learning Support Services provides academic workshops on various study skills throughout the semester. Direct your student to the schedule posted online. There are Weekly Study Schedule forms available in the Loft as well, where professional or trained student staff can assist your student in planning study times.
Other Resources at the Loft include study skills handouts focusing on reading, writing and test taking tips. Students can check out and view study skill videos from the Circulation Desk on the 4th floor of the Library.
Getting Enough Sleep: Another common complaint among college students is not getting enough sleep. With increased academic responsibility, lots of social opportunities, and a communal living environment, it can be challenging to find enough time to sleep. Having a roommate usually only intensifies the problem. Making sleep a priority will go a long way to ensuring overall health and well-being. We suggest that a student seriously struggling with sleep issues visit our Wellness Education professional for helpful advice.
Learning to Live in a Residence Hall: While incoming students are sometimes skeptical about living in a residence hall, they quickly find out that residential living can provide opportunities for social interaction, special programming, and even leadership roles through the residential hall council structure. There is an upper-class residence advisor in every hall who provides support, facilitates social programming, and introduces learning opportunities to the residents, in addition to enforcing college policies. There also is a residential director, a member of the professional staff, assigned to oversee each residence hall.
While living in a residence hall is both fun and trying, it is certainly an important part of the development process that enhances the overall educational experience! When challenges arise, particularly with a roommate who may have some lifestyle differences, it's best for students to work through them by talking to the roommate and discussing concerns.