Adjusting to anything new can be stressful and challenging. However, making the leap from high school to college can be incredibly difficult. You’re adjusting to an entirely new environment – including the school, students, teachers, a new room and a more rigorous academic schedule. That’s why you’ll likely experience what many people frequently describe as “the Freshman Blues.”
According to a national survey conducted for the JED Foundation, 50 percent of college freshmen reported feeling stressed most of the time or all of the time. A full 36 percent of freshmen stated they didn’t feel they were able to manage the stresses of college life.
If you’re an online student, you may have even more concerns than the average student.
However, with some preparation and realistic expectations you’ll find yourself thriving in college. Here are 10 steps to help make the transition from online high school to college.
1. Recognize that you’re not alone.
While many of your peers (college freshmen) likely graduated from a traditional high school, it’s important to recognize that they’re in a similar situation. Everything is new. In fact, you’ll likely have fewer problems adjusting because you’ve already experienced what it means to study independently as an online high school student.
2. Connect with an advisor.
As a new student, one of the most critical steps you can take is connecting with an academic advisor. Before classes start, ask your advisor to review your courses and see if they align with your goals. Make adjustments if necessary. This step alone can give you confidence knowing that you’re on the right track.
3. Make a few friends.
This may seem like a minor thing but having a network of friends is another source of support that will help you feel grounded. Again, realize other students are likely experiencing the same feelings of isolation as well as feeling out of their comfort zone. Participate in student activities and start joining other students in the cafeteria for lunch. Meeting new people may initially feel awkward but you’ll make acquaintances soon enough.
4. Stay connected with your family.
It’s not a failure on your part if you contact your family once a day, twice a day or once a week. Maintaining relationships with relatives and friends can help as you adjust to college.
5. Be confident.
Of course, you’re in a new atmosphere. But, be proud of what you already have accomplished thus far. With your experience as an online student, you have already learned the consequences of procrastinating and getting distracted and know how to combat those distractions. Independence and time management are great assets that will help you adjust to college.
6. Recognize your limits.
It’s important to recognize that academic courses in college can be much more demanding than those you experienced in high school. Avoid the temptation to “double up” on courses in an effort to graduate early. Get comfortable with your new schedule before trying to be more ambitious with your coursework.
7. Falling behind?
Say something. You’re a college student. You’re supposed to be adult enough to handle any challenges on your own, right? That attitude is a complete myth. Students who succeed are those who say something to their professors, their advisors or teaching assistants when things are getting overwhelming. If you sense that things are getting to the point that they’re too much to handle, speak up immediately.
8. Get physical.
As any physician will tell you, one of the best ways to deal with stress is to get active. With your workload, you may find it difficult to find spare time to dedicate to exercise. However, a yoga class, hiking or weightlifting can pay off in great dividends. You’ll feel more capable of dealing with the demands of your schedule.
9. Be a citizen.
Just because you’re a college student, doesn’t mean you can’t have a life outside of campus. Check out community-minded groups on campus or in your college town to find volunteer opportunities. When you’re giving back to those in need or helping to raise awareness about a cause, you’re helping yourself as well. It’s hard to remain stressed out when you’re focused on those less fortunate.
10. Seek counseling.
Your college campus has counseling services and resources for good reason. Dealing with stress and anxiety is not uncommon for college students. When you start feeling overwhelmed or anxious, professional counseling can provide you with the help you need to adjust.
Making the transition to college can be a stressful time, but it also is incredibly rewarding. With some coping mechanisms and the right approach, you can get the most out of your college education.