Starting college can be a very exciting time for freshmen. It is the beginning of something new, often moving away from home and experiencing something different than what they’ve been accustomed to for 18 years from an academic and social perspective. However, there are often adjustments that need to be made when beginning your freshman year. How can a student acclimate themselves to college as effectively as possible?
Timeka Rashid, vice president for student affairs at Baldwin Wallace University in Berea, and Jana Willan, director of admission at Hiram College in Hiram, said there are some big adjustments that freshmen often have to make.
Rashid said she thinks freshmen struggles start with adjusting to new and shared space with others. Many of Baldwin Wallace’s students come from what she calls the “amenity generation,” where they’re used to their own rooms and their own way.
“And so coming in sometimes to share a bathroom and to share a space is first and foremost,” Rashid said. “So, social adjustments and intervention issues are some of the first major struggles when you’re moving into a residence hall and have to share a bathroom area space area. And you may have just come from your own room and your own bathroom at home.”
Willan said time management is another big adjustment. She said, when you’re coming from high school, everything is very structured and timed out for you, even extracurriculars. College, on the other hand, is not like that.
“In your senior year, look at different apps that are out there for time management and try to work through a couple different systems that may be best for you,” Willan said. “Just try to be able to schedule yourself and keep track of yourself, because everyone’s going to have a different schedule. And it’s not like you’re going to have class at the same time as your friends or roommates.”
Rashid added the way time is managed in K-12 systems makes it a challenge to adapt in college for some. She said since nobody is going to wake you up or remind you of an assignment, the pace aspect of college is a big adjustment.
“College can be fast,” Rashid said. “You’re moving from your classes and you have all these things that are swirling around you fast, and you have to turn things in fast. So that pace adjustment where you have less control over that is another major adjustment.”
Willan said Hiram College has a program that maps out everything that incoming freshmen need to know. They get to meet their faculty adviser, meet with their classmates for their seminar class and get connected with different resources on campus.
“So that would be things like tutoring services and student-orientation leaders walking everyone around,” Willan said. “And we try to really create a sense of community, not only students with students, but also students with staff, faculty and other resources ... it’s very different from high school. Typically, you’re with the same group of people for a very long time. When you’re coming into college, A lot of people are in the same situation, I would say most, where you’re not going to know very many people on campus, if any.”
How else can students adjust to a new social situation? Rashid said to lean into the resources that are outlined for you when you are coming to campus in orientation.
“So from your academic advisers to those administrators like myself, who are telling you to reach out and meet new people,” Rashid said. “When you talk about learning to adjust to space, I would have conversations with your roommate early. Establish an understanding of getting to know them beyond just maybe Instagram or Snapchat. Ask those questions of ‘how do you live? How do you learn? What’s your sleep schedule like?’”