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College Freshmen: How to Deal with Being Away from Home

written by: RobinRaven•edited by: Wendy Finn•updated: 12/6/2011

One's first year of college is one of the most momentous years in a person's life. Living on your own, even if it's only a few miles from home, is a huge step. For college freshmen who go hundreds or thousands of miles away from home, it's an even bigger step. Here's how to deal with it.

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    The Time of Transition

    The whole college experience can become stressful, especially when you are new and are settling in to dorm life; this can be the most stressful time of all. However, you can rest assured that it becomes much easier with time. At first it is scary and intimidating; yet, within a week you are likely to feel more comfortable. That's often the case for many college freshmen away from home. But how do you cope with the initial culture shock?

    Ask for Assistance: Help yourself initially by accepting assistance from others. Talk to your resident assistant (RA) if you are sad, lonely or depressed. You can talk to him about anything. The resident assistant is an older student who understands the issues that you are facing in your life. If your resident assistant is not kind or helpful, you can always request a change of floors or rooms; simply explain why. This won't always work out, but it often will.

    Utilize Campus Support Systems: Be sure to know where you can easily go to for support. There's always a school counselor, and there's often a campus psychologist. There are also posted phone numbers that you can call if you get really down or lonely. Campus support numbers will have students helping other students.

    Attend Dorm Activities: Go to all of the posted activities at your dorm when you arrive. Most dorms feature all sorts of fun things to welcome the students, such as movie nights, cook outs and bonfires. Go to them, even if you're scared. All the other freshmen will be there feeling those same feelings. Simply smile and say to someone who looks as frightened as you feel; you may just strike up a friendship.

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    Making Friends

    There are lots of ways to make friends in college, and they'll likely be friends who can stick by you through your college career and beyond. The first and most easy way that you'll make friends is by talking to your classmates. If you get to class early, there are always times when you can sit and chat with other early risers who straggle in.

    Join Campus Clubs and Activities: Join clubs and sports activities that you genuinely enjoy. It can be tempting to sign up for as many things as your schedule allows, but you're not doing anybody any favors if you do that. You'll burn out easily and have little left to offer to any of the groups. Instead, pick 2 to 4 activities that you'll genuinely enjoy. Making friends that way will come with ease. You'll naturally want to hang out with people who share your interests.

    Be yourself: Although it's going to be very tempting to go with who seems to be the norm at your school and go with the flow, you'll make more friends who like you for who you are if you dare to be yourself, even if that's someone completely different from everybody else in the crowd. Standing out isn't always such a bad thing.

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    In Conclusion

    Being a college freshman away from home is going to present its own challenges. When you first experience dorm life, you may deal with roommate adjustments, homesickness and the shock of newfound responsibilities. However, it can be a fun experience if you understand that changes are going to be uncomfortable at first, before the blessings of them become clear. When the going gets tough, the tough ask for help and rely on the many resources available to incoming college freshmen.