Six tips to improve freshman year

Professors offers advice to fight first-year jitters


It's natural for first-year students to encounter challenges associated with the transition to college life.


For many students, the academic demands are great, dorm-life may be their first experience sharing a living space, and there is so much unstructured time to manage.


As director of Saint Joseph's University's Office for Student Success, Kim Allen-Stuck, Ph.D., provided the following six tips to help students ease into the college experience:


Expectations should be managed:  “College is the best four years of your life” is a common axiom to hear about college. It can be, but it isn't true every minute of every day. Adjusting to college life can take time, and everything won't be perfect the first week. Students should be open to what college can be, as there will be new opportunities everywhere. A student should not limit himself or herself to thinking about what it should be.


Friendships take time:  Some times freshmen make friends quickly based on proximity -- the people who were assigned randomly to live in a hallway become immediate friends. Sometimes that works. Other times, students need to involve themselves on campus to find friends with similar values and interests.


Roommates won't be just like each other:  The college roommate relationship comes with a lot of pressure. The truth is a roommate is just one of the many new people in college. Since the same, small space is shared, mutual respect and honesty is key to making the relationship work. Roommates may not be best friends, but they do need to work together to create an academically supportive space.


Admit when one needs help:  Colleges have many resources available to help with academic difficulties, health issues, emotional distress, financial issues and much more. It's important for a student to recognize when he or she is having trouble and seek assistance on campus.


Explore the world outside of campus:  Students choose their college because of where it's located or the neighboring city or town, and they should get to know the area -- the geography, the people and the history. Knowing the surrounding area is half of the experience.


Maintain support systems:  For many students with a documented learning disability in high school, they may consider stopping their medication or regular counseling sessions with the transition to college life. While this may sound like a good idea, with all of the new challenges a student is facing, it's important to keep that support in place.