Advice for Students: How To Make A Successful Transition Into University or College

  1. Recognize that this is a big transition, and it is normal to have mixed feelings about the upcoming changes, such as joy and sadness.

It’s common to have many different feelings about leaving home for the first time. The newfound freedom is exciting. At the same time, you may be feeling anxious, sad, intimidated, or any other mixture of feelings as you start something new. All these feelings can be part of change and going through a transition. It is also common to feel homesick and have moments where you feel lonely. Staying connected to home can help with the adjustment. Taking time to make new social connections with others is an important part of adjusting to being away at school. Talking about how you feel with people you trust can be helpful, and you may also find that others are experiencing similar emotions. This is a big life event, and it makes sense that you have a lot of feelings about it.

  1. Maintain open communication and dialogue. Set up a schedule for staying in touch.

Although you are moving toward independence, staying in open communication with your support system and knowing when to ask for their help is an important part of your continued success in school and life. Having a positive social network and having parent support are known to be factors in helping students to be successful at school. Communicating with professors and other people at the school will also become your responsibility. Setting up a regular time to connect with your parents that works for you and for them will help with keeping you in regular contact and having access to their support.

  1. Develop skills of independence and problem solving. Remember the goal is autonomy, and it is a journey, not an event.

You have learned many things to get to where you are, and you should be proud of your accomplishments. This next new phase will require you to continue learning new skills and solving problems. Take some time to think about what you need to learn and what things you need to work on as you move toward independence. Maybe it’s managing money, or cooking skills that you are interested in. Take some time to think about what skills you want to learn and improve, and what your approach is to solving problems when they show up. Who are the people you can call if you need help?

  1. Take steps to reduce stress, because change causes stress for individuals.

Even when changes are welcomed and positive, people can experience stress. Pay attention to how stress is affecting your body and mind and make efforts to take care of yourself through a balanced lifestyle. Besides taking care of your body, and focusing on your studies, it is also important to schedule time for fun, relaxation, and friends. Sometimes when people are under a lot of stress, they use more substances such as alcohol. Keeping your stress level manageable and having positive outlets for stress will help reduce the risk of substance misuse.

  1. Promote positive mental health and know when to seek help.

Having positive mental health will help you to better manage the demands of both the transition to independence and the workload of school. The routines and habits that you have formed over your life will continue to be useful for you now. Setting your own guidelines and following them will help you stay in balance, for example having adequate sleep and taking care of your physical body through nutrition and regular movement.

Also, learning ways to cope with setbacks, disappointments and changes are another way we can strengthen our mental health. Life is a journey, and things do not always go our way. Being prepared to manage challenges that come up, and knowing when to ask for help, are important to our mental health. Know where the supports are at your school, for example student services, and identifying the people you can turn to if you are struggling, is part of becoming independent and looking after yourself.

Leaving home to go to school is a big life event. If you are struggling with the transition and are concerned about your own mental health, consider speaking with a mental health professional. Big life changes can be hard, and having a professional to help guide your process can provide much needed reassurance and guidance at a critical time.