Adjusting to College Life

College is an exciting time of life, one filled with many profound transitions in preparation for an exciting and fulfilling future. One thing is likely true for all first year students: beginning college provides countless opportunities for growth, newly emerging challenges, and an accumulation of rich interpersonal experiences. Homesickness, academic challenges, difficulty fitting in, managing expectations, and many other issues can take their toll. Sometimes, the challenges of adjusting to college can be stressful and require new life strategies. 

Often, having a sense of what you’re going through is helps reduce the negative impact it can have on your life. Try to be mindful of the changes that will likely greet you, and develop some ideas about how to respond as you move through the first several weeks of life here at Pitzer.

  • Increased personal freedom and responsibility. 
  • Different kinds of academic strategies needed for success.
  • Greater complexity of time-management responsibilities.
  • New friendships at college that differ from high school friendships.
  • Much more (or much less) racial and cultural diversity than what you experienced in your home community—or similar diversity but less socializing among people of different races.
  • A greater range of values and morals in college than in your home community.
  • Being surrounded by many peers who are also high achieving.
  • Changing relationships with family members and friends from home.
  • Maintaining a long-distance romantic relationship while beginning a new life that may not involve your partner from home. 

Keep this in mind: Struggling is not a sign of weakness or failure.  In fact, struggling is usually the first phase of developing a new strength or strategy for success and wisdom.

Below are some helpful hints in moving through the adjustment to college life:

  1. Reach out to others. Start conversations and trust the process of forming new friendships.
  2. Stay healthy and educated about how to maximize all aspects of your health.
  3. Become aware of the many activities and organizations that you can join.
  4. Adjust your expectations if things are not working out as you planned. Perhaps, what you planned wasn’t going to offer as much as what is actually happening!
  5. Make use of the services and resources to keep you on track academically. 
  6. Connect with the team of support at Pitzer in your residence halls.
  7. Get support from a counselor with expertise in college student development. If a new issue has emerged, or something you have experienced for some time needs support.