Eastern Michigan University

Adjusting to College Life

For many first-year students, the University may be their first experience living away from home for an extended period of time. The student's usual sources of support are no longer present to ease adjustment to an unfamiliar environment. The first few weeks on campus can be a lonely period. There may be concerns about forming friendships. When new students look around, it may seem that everyone else is self-confident and socially successful. The reality is that everyone is having the same concerns. Here are tips for students to help ease the adjustment to EMU:

  • If they allow sufficient time, students usually find peers in the university to provide structure and a valuable support system in the new environment. The important thing for the student to remember in meeting new people is to be oneself.
  • Meaningful, new relationships should not be expected to develop overnight. It took a great deal of time to develop intimacy in high school friendships; the same will be true of intimacy in university friendships.
  • Increased personal freedom can feel both wonderful and frightening. Students can come and go as they choose with no one to "hassle" them. At the same time, things are no longer predictable. The strange environment with new kinds of procedures and new people can create the sense of being on an emotional roller-coaster. This is normal and to be expected.
  • Living with roommates can present special, sometimes intense, problems. Negotiating respect of personal property, personal space, sleep, and relaxation needs can be a complex task. The complexity increases when roommates come from different backgrounds with very different values. Communicating one's legitimate needs calmly, listening with respect to a roommate's concerns, and being willing to compromise can promote resolution of issues.
  • It is unrealistic to expect that roommates will be best friends. Roommates may work out mutually satisfying living arrangements, but the reality is that each may tend to have his or her own circle of friends.
  • University classes are more difficult than high school classes. There are more reading assignments, and the exams and papers cover a greater amount of material. Instructors expect students to do more work outside the classroom.
  • In order to be successful, the student must take responsibility for his or her actions. This means the student needs to follow the course outlines and keep up with the readings. If a class is missed, it is up to the student to borrow lecture notes from someone who was present. If the student is having difficulty with course work, he or she needs to ask for help--request an appointment with the professor, or sign up for tutoring or other academic-skills training at the Holman Success Center.

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