Adjusting to College Life Freshman Year: What Parents Should Expect During the First Few Weeks of College

Adjusting to college life freshman year means that your child will likely deal with many things for the first time, all at the same time. Students must learn to live with roommates, handle finances, and deal with new academic demands. Students often encounter people from different cultures and with different beliefs for the first time. They may need to learn to navigate the bureaucracy of a big institution. Needless to say, the first few weeks of college can be overwhelming. 

A first year student falls asleep in his dorm room bed, exhausted from the adjustment to college life

Through managing these adjustments, college students learn how to respond to life’s daily challenges. They figure out how to find the social and emotional support they need from the campus community, friends, and family.

Most students’ initial concerns are about forming friendships. When new students look around, it may seem that everyone else is self-confident and socially successful. In reality, everyone has similar concerns.

Within a couple of weeks, some regular patterns—walking the same route to classes or eating at the same time with certain people—start to set in and making connections will become easier for your child.

Still, sometimes those first friendships don’t happen as quickly as your child would like. Assure them that meaningful, new relationships do not develop overnight. Discuss ideas for connecting, such as inviting others to join them for a meal, or getting involved in campus activities. Help them understand that all freshmen are new to campus life. People they reach out to will most likely be happy to have someone talk to them. While they’re sorting it out, don’t underestimate the restorative qualities of a care package from home. Notes, pictures, and home-baked treats they can share with dorm mates are all great ideas.

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