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Don’t be ashamed to cry because you miss home.
“Everyone does. And don’t be ashamed to call your parents. Even call them crying. Being away from home for the first time is exciting, but also scary. It’s OK to need your parents.”
Use your school’s mental health resources.
“Chances are your parents nor your friends are qualified therapists, so use your school’s mental health resources to gain tools to help you adjust.”
Take time for yourself.
“Don’t feel like you have to do everything all the time. It’s okay to turn down events and take some downtime.“
Talk to your advisor.
“Some students only see their advisors when it’s time to pick classes, but they’re there to guide you too! Touch base with them when you’re feeling overwhelmed — they’ll usually have great advice.“
Don’t wait until your anxiety gets bad to see a counselor.
“Don’t wait too long to see a therapist if your anxiety is debilitating. Therapy is so normal and helpful, and honestly it changed my life.“
Ask your school’s counseling center about local resources.
“Many counseling centers offer some free sessions for students, and will also be able to point you to other helpful local resources.“
Find a place to go if you’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed.
“Find somewhere on campus (or off, if you have the means) where you can go if you’re overwhelmed and need to be alone! At my college, hardly anyone goes to the third floor of the library, so if I need to take a breather, I’ll go up there.”
Set realistic goals for yourself.
“I put so much pressure on myself for perfect grades that it became all I cared about. If I felt I wasn’t going to get a 4.0, I essentially felt worthless and gave up. Don’t punish yourself like that!”
Find a mentor.
“It could be a therapist, professor, religious leader, or college senior. Find someone that can pour into you and give you hope for the future.”
Do things alone.
“Freshman year, I just wouldn’t do things if I couldn’t get a friend to go with me, which really held me back. Whether that’s joining a club, going to an event you’re interested in, or just running to the store, don’t be afraid to go by yourself! This is your time to find what YOU like and who YOU are. Then naturally, you’ll find other people with similar interests.“
Take advantage of office hours.
“As a professor who teaches freshmen courses, I strongly recommend taking advantage of office hours. We set aside that time every week for you and want to answer your questions. It’s especially helpful if you have questions that you don’t want to ask in front of the whole class.“
“Introduce yourself to the person sitting next to you in each class. This is something I still do in my junior year, and has led to multiple friendships. It gives you an ally in the class too — someone you can complain about the homework to or borrow notes from.“
Take it slow.
“You’re not a failure if you don’t graduate in four years or if you take a break in between semesters! If you can only handle one or two courses per semester, then do that.”
Spend a little time outside!
“A little fresh air and sunshine always helps. And you can use that time to explore the campus and see what your school has to offer!“
Be careful not to party too much.
“While going out and drinking is often a glamorized part of college, alcohol and late nights can exacerbate anxiety and depression. Remember to take time for your own happiness and stay hydrated!”
Talk to your professors.
“Talk to them (briefly, if you’re uncomfortable with going into details) about the fact that you might miss some classes or coursework due to health issues. Every professor that I’ve talked to has been understanding. Plus giving them that heads up lets them know that you’re trying to do your best and being proactive. Even if you feel like you don’t need to, it doesn’t hurt to take some preventative measures in case your workload gets unbearable.”
Get off campus.
“Taking a step out occasionally, whether by yourself or with a friend, can help you appreciate life and gain a little perspective. It might make you remember why you chose your college in the first place, and at the very least, will provide a fun way to relax.”
Accept that plans sometimes change.
“I ended up dropping out of school freshman year because I refused to deal with my depression. I ended up transferring schools and graduating a year late, but I was able to get my mental health under control. Do what feels right for YOU — even if it might not have been in your original plan.“
Don’t force yourself to be someone you’re not.
“It’s OK to not like parties and to spend Friday nights watching Netflix. Just remember that everyone else who’s spending Friday nights watching Netflix is also doing it alone, thinking they’re the only one. Try putting a movie on in a common space in the dorm and putting out a general invitation for people to come watch! I made some of my best friends that way.”
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself or your idea of what college “should be.”
“Everyone says college is the best time of your life, and for some people that is 100% true. BUT it’s okay if things don’t feel absolutely brilliant all the time — don’t put so much pressure on yourself to love everything every second of the day! For some people, college is just another couple of years where you get a degree, and there’s nothing wrong with that!”
And lastly, remember that you’re not alone.
“Everyone is scared and lonely. Just because everyone on social media seems perfectly happy, that doesn’t mean it’s true. You’re not alone in feeling anxious and overwhelmed.”
Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.