Considerations for Incoming Students
Transitioning to college can be a stressful time for students. Academically, the course work is more demanding and students have to juggle more responsibilities, taking responsibility for getting to their classes and keeping up with their assignments. At the same time, they are beginning a new chapter in their lives socially and have to establish new friendships. It’s a time for new activities, new interests, and new stressors. It is certainly an exciting time, but for many it can also be quite stressful.
To be successful, both academically and socially, students need to develop appropriate and effective coping skills. This starts with the basics—time management, good study skills, and learning to take care of oneself, physically and emotionally. It is important to eat well, get enough sleep, and to take time for exercise and recreation. Keeping things in balance is important.
When students do not do these things, life gets out of balance and can become much more stressful. At times, students may turn to maladaptive coping strategies—things such as avoidance, substance use, or other self-destructive patterns. As parents, you are in a position not only to encourage and support your sons and daughters as they start college, but to notice some of the warning signs that might indicate that their transition is more stressful than it should be.
Signs of Possible Distress:
- Excessive homesickness
- Marked change in performance or behavior
- Missing classes and/or not turning in assignments
- Trouble eating and/or sleeping
- Marked change in personal hygiene and self-care
- Dramatic weight loss or gain
- Emotional sensitivity
- Depressed or lethargic mood
- Excessive worry or anxiety
- Not making new friends at school
- Coming home every weekend
- Isolation from friends, family, or classmates
- Self-injurious behavior or thoughts of suicide
As parents, you may be one of the first individuals to notice that something is wrong. It is important to offer support and to encourage your son or daughter to reach out and ask for help. There are many resources available on campus to help make the transition to college easier. Many of them can be found throughout our website.
In terms of mental health, if students feel they would benefit from supportive counseling and/or therapy to address their difficulties, they can call Psychological Services 330-672-2487 to make an appointment. As young adults, it is important that they learn how to take responsibility for themselves and their healthcare, although we certainly welcome your involvement to the extent that it is appropriate and necessary. Please realize, however, that because of confidentiality, our communication with you may be limited, but we are also here to support you and to offer whatever consultation may be helpful.