Moving to college is a big step and can be nerve-wracking, but it’s also a very exciting time. Settling into a new routine and being independent doesn’t need to be difficult. There are a number of ways to help you settle in quicker and make your first year at college run smoothly.
We have teamed up with The Student Housing Company to give you some pointers for your first year. Whether it’s coping with homesickness or making new friends, there are many ways to combat any potential struggles in your first year in order to make the most of your full college experience.
1. Keep On Top of Your Studies
Adapting to a new study routine can be particularly challenging in your first year at college. If you are feeling the strain of a heavy workload and are unsure where to start, it really helps to prioritise your tasks. Make a note in your calendar of when pieces of coursework need to be completed and build a study schedule around that.
It’s also worth keeping a calendar of when your lectures and seminars are, especially in your first few weeks, so that you don’t forget anything. You could even print out a copy to carry round with you. Staying organised is essential to keeping on top of your studies and meeting deadlines. Allotting time to certain tasks and setting yourself goals will instantly relieve the stress of juggling deadlines and will help you to transition from school to college.
2. Make Friends In and Out of Lectures
One of the best aspects of going to college is the people you will meet. Whether you live in a houseshare or halls, and whatever course you study, you’ll have the chance to make a ton of new friends. You can also make friends through any sports teams or societies you sign up to.
It’s important to take a break from your studies now and again to have fun – building a good circle of friends will help you create the perfect balance between study-time and socialising, letting you settle into college life much quicker. Having people around you to talk to if you’re struggling really helps too.
3. Battle Homesickness Head On
It’s likely that every student will, at some point, feel a bit homesick, especially during the first few weeks of being at college. Just because you’ve moved away from home, it doesn’t mean you can’t stay in touch. It’s so much easier to stay in contact with friends and family now. There’s nothing wrong with regularly calling your parents or friends from home, or even video-calling them through programmes like Skype and FaceTime.
The majority of universities will have strong transport links too, so you can easily book a train home to visit friends and family, whether on a weekend or during reading week. Keeping this level of contact can help ease the feelings of homesickness.
4. Make Your Room Homely
When you’re packing for college, don’t forget to include some of your favourite things from your room, from photos of your family and friends to personal knick-knacks. You can use these to decorate your new room, making it feel much more homely. Having familiar things around you will help the transition away from home and also alleviate any homesickness.
5. Take Every Opportunity Available
There is a lot more to college than just studying. Be open to new opportunities to better enjoy the college experience – every college will have a wide selection of opportunities, both social and study-based. University is the perfect time to try out new things, whether it’s joining a sports team, signing up to a society, taking part in a volunteering scheme, or learning a foreign language.
You never know what doors these experiences will open. Taking part in extracurricular activities is a good way of meeting new friends and growing new skills. By the time you graduate from college you will be able to impress future employers with these external pursuits.
6. Find Your Way Around Campus
Whether your college campus is spread across the city or self-contained, it can be all too common to get lost from time to time. Try to become familiar with the campus as soon as you arrive, as this will help to take the stress away from getting to your lectures on time.
In your first few weeks it might be a good idea to carry a map of the campus around with you, just in case you get lost. Plan ahead if your lectures are in a different location that you’re unsure of, and research how to get there (Google Maps should do it). Also, don’t be afraid to ask other students when you’re on campus – they should be able to point you in the right direction.
7. Set Yourself a Budget
Before you even get to college, make sure you know how much your accommodation is going to cost every week and what the monthly bills will come to. This will help you stay on top of your expenses and know how much money you are left with for food shopping, study materials and socialising.
Where possible, try to set yourself a budget around this and stick to it. Hitting your overdraft can cause unnecessary stress. Many first-year students decide to get a part-time job to help manage their finances better, but you should only consider a job if you have enough time to fit this around your studies and other activities.
8. Talk to Your Tutors Regularly
Building a strong relationship with your tutors can really help your college journey. They are there to guide you through your studies, so don’t be afraid to ask for help if you are struggling with a particular assignment or piece of reading. The more comfortable you are talking to your tutors, the easier it will be to get help when you need it.
Every tutor will have periods away from teaching, so you will be able to book an appointment to talk through your queries, or even send them a quick email. Tutors understand that your first year at college can be overwhelming and are there to offer help along the way.
9. Know Where to Find Help
Adapting to a completely new routine for your first year at college can be especially stressful, so it is essential that you know where to find help if you need it. Every college has a specific student support team that is there to answer more general queries across a wide range of topics, from money worries to health issues. Be sure to make use of this service if you need to. The staff will be specially trained on all aspects of college life and if they can’t directly help you, they will be able to refer you to someone who can.
10. Get Creative in the Kitchen
If you are planning on living in self-catered accommodation, you will need to cook for yourself. This doesn’t need to be hard though. There are plenty of recipe books and websites aimed specifically at students and that offer easy, quick and healthy recipes which don’t require you to be a professional chef. When you’re living in shared accommodation, you could also make cooking tens times easier and more fun by cooking together with your housemates. It will take away some of the burden and can also save money and avoid wasting food.
Leaving home and starting college is a big moment in your life. Following these tips will help you to settle into college life and adapt to your new routine.
The Student Housing Company offers stylish and comfortable private accommodation to students in Dublin.