Adjusting to College Life

Anxiety, Depression

| Written by Julie Clappsy, LCSW

Starting college can be an exciting time filled with new opportunities and experiences. College offers autonomy to make new decisions and take on new responsibilities. However, these changes can also be overwhelming at times and may take some time to adjust to.

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Challenges Involved With Starting College

Some challenges a first year college student may experience are adjusting to new academic expectations, building new social supports, and time management skills. As a college student, academic demands and expectations may be different from high school classes.

Managing these changes in a new environment can be stressful. At times, it can feel lonely while trying to build up new connections. Furthermore, managing social events, due dates, homework and other new responsibilities can be challenging to keep up with. Sometimes it can be difficult to find a balance between academic demands, social events, and self care.

Moving to college for the first time is an adjustment, and this post will focus on different ways to adjust to the changes that come with college.

Tips/Strategies For Success At College

Ask for help

The academic demands can vary from class to class. Check out the resources your school offers for academic support. Utilize tutoring services and your professor’s office hours to stay on top of your assignments. Get to know your classmates. Connecting with classmates can be another effective way to brainstorm and manage academic demands. 


Living with someone new for the first time can come with challenges. Despite the type of relationship you have with your roommate, it is important to maintain communication to avoid conflict. Each person may have different expectations and sometimes it is important to compromise to make sure the both of you are getting your needs met. “I” Statements can be an effective way to assert yourself with your roommate. “I” statements can look like: “I have an early morning tomorrow and need it to be quiet in order for me to get to bed early.”


College is an opportunity to explore new interests, develop new friendships and strengthen skills. Living away from home for the first time may be difficult as you may not have the same amount of support as you did while living at home. Checking out school clubs or participating in campus activities can be a great way to expand interests and develop new social connections.                       

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Routines can be an effective way to adjust to change and manage stressors as they offer structure and consistency. It can help with finding a balance between academics, hobbies, and social activities. Planners can be a helpful way to keep track of your schedule, whether they are digital or paper.


Sleep can provide you with the rest you need to take on new challenges and experiences. Although it can be hard sometimes, research shows that getting 7 or more hours of sleep per night is important for your health. Relaxation techniques such as mindfulness exercises, breathing techniques, progressive muscle relaxation or visualization techniques can help with getting yourself ready for a good night’s rest.

Self compassion

This is a new experience, you are navigating a lot of change! Be kind to yourself. Remember to take things one step at a time. 


College is an exciting time but can be a stressful adjustment. These are just a few strategies to help with managing different types of stress. 

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If you are struggling with motivation and concentrating, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Low motivation and difficulty with concentrating is a common symptom of anxiety, depression, and many other mental health challenges. A licensed professional can help you overcome some of these challenges.


In her free time, Julie enjoys spending time with family and playing with her dog. She loves yoga, baking new recipes, and reading on the beach.

Check out Julie’s professional bio here.

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