5 Tips for Surviving the Freshmen Adjustment Shock

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Ivan Dimitrijevic
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Ivan Dimitrijevic
Ivan Dimitrijevic
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The initial six weeks of college life can easily take an unsettlingly confusing twist. Especially for students leaving their family nests for the first time, the freshmen adjustment period can come as a culture shock that triggers stress, depression and anxiety. As any other disorienting experience, this process demands plenty of courage and soul-searching before finally resolving in assimilation and adaptation to new circumstances.

College is not only an educational institution – it is a parallel universe, a closed community that has its own values and ways of thinking. Ultimately, it is the single most magnificent experience of a young life, which makes this adjustment period even more important. Here’s what you need to consider before embarking on your last educational journey.

Prepare & Relax

Naturally, your first campus days may be hyped with excitement rather than tarnished with dread. The way you adjust to your new living arrangements, timetables and acquaintances will depend on your personality and prior experience. To most students, this adjustment can be somewhat difficult, but it’s important to know that, eventually, the shock will pass. It’s important to acknowledge the freshmen cultural shock as such, prepare yourself beforehand, and don’t panic if problems eventually do emerge. Come organized and ready to overcome potential obstacles, but try to relax and not to think about it so much.

Remember, You’re Not Alone


If lucky enough to have an extroverted life approach, meeting new people and making new friends will probably come easy to you. It’s introverted people who usually have the hardest time adjusting to new social environments, especially because making instant emotional connections is not their greatest advantage.

Easy-going or reclusive, keep in mind that every single person around you feels the exact same way. Contrary to popular belief, freshmen are mostly nervous, anxious and overwhelmed, which is why finding that one person with whom you’ll easily click is not so hard – everything it takes is a little courage on your side.

Be Proactive

Even if your initial efforts fail and your college life seems nothing like you’ve expected, there are ways of alleviating your stress in a proactive way. Colleges are packed with extracurricular activities, which makes them the perfect place to finally explore your hidden talents and suppressed interests. Instead of making frequent meltdown calls to your parents or isolating yourself,

allow yourself a little time to adapt and dedicate it to things that make you inspired and enthusiastic.

Simultaneously, these activities will give you a chance of connecting with others that share your passions and, hopefully, an opportunity to make lifelong friendships.

Breathe In, Breathe Out


While extracurricular courses, clubs and projects will keep you sane, regular exercises will keep you healthy. It’s not only your mind that goes through disconcerting changes, but your body suffers the afflictions of new circumstances as well. Freshmen 15 is a serious threat to each college newcomer, and you should definitely not take it lightly.

According to United Medical Education, influenzae, bacterial meningitis and HPV are the most common illnesses in college students, and if not aware and careful, they can make your freshmen shock even more unpleasant, not to mention that they can seriously endanger your health. Take your transition from your mom’s home cooked meals to irregular diet gradually and be careful not to disturb your sleeping cycle and workout routines too much.

Maintain Balance

Once your mind and body are in sync, be careful not to disturb the hardly accomplished balance. The first grades will put additional pressure on your college life and urge you to redefine your priorities. If bad or unsatisfying for your academic aspirations, they might put you in risk of isolating yourself from the social life and focusing solely on learning.

As much as your performance should be of the greatest importance to you, college is where you develop interpersonal and collaborative skills that will be of equal significance for both your personal and professional life. Instead of retreating to the depths of your campus library alone, try to remember that a diploma is a summary of your collective efforts and that one bad grade will not ruin your postgraduate career.

Besides, a fine balance between schooling and socializing will help you develop a more holistic approach to learning, keep your energy and your spirit high and make your studying sessions easier and more productive.  

As cliché as it may sound, college really is the greatest time of our lives, an empowering experience that allows us to creatively express ourselves, reach our intellectual potentials and make memories and friends to last for a lifetime. Make it your own personal mantra, and whenever you find yourself feeling stressed out or under the weather, remember to repeat it.