First-Year Challenges

Transitioning to college can be difficult for students and families alike.

Consider the following common first-year challenges as your family adapts to this next phase.


The majority of college students suffer from homesickness, typically during the first semester. 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 family member 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 structured, with 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. Overall, college students spend significantly less time in the classroom than they did in high school.

However, that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be working more. 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. Students struggling in this area are encouraged to talk with their ’Wick 101 instructor, Peer Leader, or Center for Student Success staff member.

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 with our Wellness Education professionals for helpful advice.

Learning to Live in a Residence Hall

While students are sometimes skeptical about living in a residence hall, they quickly find out that residential living provides social interaction, special programming, and even leadership opportunities. Residential living is an important part of the development process that enhances the overall educational experience. When challenges arise, particularly due to lifestyle differences, it’s best for students to work through them by talking to the roommate and, if needed, discussing concerns with their residential advisor.