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Mental Health

5 Ways to Ease the Transition into College

For most of us, leaving home and heading off into the unknown is incredibly daunting. Feeling overwhelmed about so many changes at once is completely normal. Everyone is experiencing some kind of anxiety about their college transition, but there are ways you can manage it. Here are some tips to help manage the stress and anxiety that may accompany you during this transition.


1. Talk to Someone

Whether it be a friend, a family member, or someone you meet in the dorms it can be so cathartic to talk about how you are feeling. Oftentimes, we keep our thoughts inside our heads and we can’t see the solutions to the worries we have. The people in your dorm will most likely understand what you are going through; they are going through the same changes. If you don’t feel comfortable with them, it can be helpful to look into options for counseling. Cal Poly has amazing programs in place to help guide you through this transition and they only want to see you succeed. Take advantage of counseling services and your WOW leaders, who are there to help guide you through your first week, because talking things through can help you see things more clearly. 

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2. Connect to your new home

Homesickness is extremely common in the first couple of months of college and it can be so tempting to pick up the phone and see what everyone’s doing back at home, but that can sometimes increase homesickness. We are not saying to disconnect from home, but try to explore your new one. Find your new go-to places or ask someone you just met to get lunch. It’s exciting being in a new place, explore it!

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3. Do not compare your experience to someone else’s

It can be really easy to get caught up in comparing yourself to other people. Social media makes other people’s lives very accessible to us, but we are only seeing the best parts of them. Everyone is super eager to tell everyone back home how great their college is, how fun their friends are and how well they are managing their school work. However, social media showcases only the best part of everyone’s life, not the truth. Taking a break from social media for even a week can change your outlook on your experience. It’s also highly likely that your friends from home are sharing their experiences with you and you are seeing other people on campus laughing, and having a great time when you might be struggling with making friends. That can be hard to hear and see, but your experience will never be the same as someone else’s and that’s okay. You are a different person with different strengths and your experience with college is unique to you. 

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4. Join Clubs

This is the piece of advice that almost everyone is going to tell you to do: join clubs. It is one of the easiest ways to meet people who have similar interests as you. There is a wide variety of clubs that college campuses offer. At Cal Poly, there are clubs just for fun like hammock club and then there are intramural sports where you can play your favorite sport while simultaneously making friends in a very low-pressure environment. Then there are clubs where you can volunteer and clubs that can help you build your professional resume. Clubs are a great way to enhance your college experience, get you out of your dorm room and make friends. Here’s all the clubs Cal Poly has to offer: https://clubs.calpoly.edu/.

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5. Be kind to yourself

Allow yourself to be overwhelmed. This is an incredibly big leap you are taking and you are going to be stronger, smarter and better prepared to face the challenges ahead because of it. It’s okay to lean on your family and friends; call the people you love and trust. Watch some episodes of your favorite TV show and take a night to care for yourself. It’s okay to struggle. Every day is a new day and a new chance to pick yourself up.

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Even though it may be difficult to adjust to college life, it won’t always be that way. Using these tips can help ease your transition into college, but we also recognize that everyone is different and what works for one person may not work for someone else. So, keep exploring new ways to put yourself out there; everything takes time. 

Emily Gassaway

Cal Poly '21

I am a second-year English major at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a minor in Child Development.
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