Making the transition can be a lot smoother by following a few simple steps.
For most of us, leaving home for college and living independently for the first time is one of the most exciting times in our lives; but it can also be one of the most daunting. Where will I live? Will I have a roommate and will we get along? How much will I miss home? And will I be able to afford it? Let’s face it, not all of us have parents that are able to take on all of our financial responsibilities, tuition, room and board, food, books, furniture, clothing, and let’s not forget about the social life. But there are ways that you can prepare for college life and living on your own without experiencing so much separation anxiety. This new stage of your life should be enlightening and full of adventure with as little stress as possible. We offer some key advice that will help you to make a smooth transition from home to your new college life.
Research and Planning Ahead is Fundamental
Visit the campus more than once – Make sure you and your family go at least twice, if travel permits, to view the campus environment, school grounds, and surrounding neighborhoods. This will help you to become more familiar with the area and a sense of familiarity can bring a lot of comfort when you are on your own for the first time away from family and friends. Get to know the neighborhood supermarkets, convenience stores, and public transportation routes, if needed. Get a cleaning service Manhattan right out of the gate, keeping your place tidy will make your experience so much better. This will also give you a feel for the safety of the neighborhood, learning where it is safe to travel and where it is not.
Note: If the campus is too far away from home to visit in person, make use of the internet; using something like Google maps (https://maps.google.com) and Google Earth (http://www.google.com/intl/en/earth/index.html) can give you a live view of most areas. When you get there ask the school for brochures, menus, and a list of local businesses that can serve you during the school year.
Think about the career you want – When selecting a college to attend, you need to think long-term about the type of career you envision yourself taking up. For instance, if you want to go into nursing, taking a bachelor of nursing is the sensible route. By knowing what you want to do, you can find the specific course that can fast-track you to your career. However, don’t worry if you don’t know what you want to do and end up doing a more generic course. There are ways that you can transition your career later on. For instance, if you only later realize that you want to go into nursing, you don’t have to start from scratch. You can use your existing bachelor’s degree in whatever subject you studied – it could be a completely different field to nursing – and use it to propel your next career.
Know your long-term plan – While researching the best colleges to go to and the courses on offer, don’t be afraid to look into potential options after graduating with a bachelor’s. If you know that you want to be a nurse, it pays to think long-term. For instance, if you have aspirations of being an FNP, then you will need more than just your bachelor’s degree. You will need to look into post master’s FNP courses. Such courses could expect you to hold a degree from an NLN (National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission) or CCNE (Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education) accredited program. This means the first degree you pick is very important if you have long-term aspirational goals and want to reach them a lot faster. For those that aren’t worried so much about speed, it doesn’t matter as much.
Is Living On or Off Campus Right for You?
Depending on your personality and your home life, on-campus living may be the ideal solution for you. Living on-campus can provide you with a feeling of community. It offers easy travel to classes, on-site facilities, such as laundry, cafeteria, and study areas. If you come from a big family with siblings, you may feel better being in a close knit community of students. However, if you prefer a more realistic experience of what life may be like after graduation, off-campus living may be just the thing for you. You have an opportunity to live among the locals of the area and enjoy a more independent adult experience.
Note: There are pros and cons to living off-campus. It can provide a sense of privacy, independence, and can often be cheaper than living on-campus; but you may also feel lonely and disconnected from the other students and college activities. Living on-campus may be more suited for those who prefer to feel a part of a community.
Regardless of where you choose to live, whether on campus or off, there are some great tips that you can take on board to help you settle in when you arrive. You will need to do everything you can to help you settle in, especially if this is your first time leaving home. For instance, make your room as unique to you as possible. Most rooms on campus will look exactly the same, but if you want a cozy and homely place, then make sure you decorate it in a style you love. While you won’t be able to paint walls and make structural changes, you can bring in home comforts like pillows and throws, posters, wall art, and photos, and once you have your belongings in the room, too, it will feel more like home.
Full-time Student; Part-time Job?
Discussing your financial reality before you head off to school is highly important. Knowing what may be required of you ahead of time will ease the stress of dealing with your money issues. If you are one of the fortunate few who will not need to contribute to your well-being while in school, that is awesome. However, many are not so fortunate and have to share expenses with their parents along with receiving some form of financial aid. This is probably the most adult conversation you will have during this time. Can you be a full-time student that spends your leisure time at campus parties or will you have to rise to the occasion and combine work and school? If so, there are ways to ease the strain. Make sure that you get a job that works well with your school schedule and also make sure that you leave time for proper rest. Be realistic about how many hours you can work and let your employer know that you are a student so they can be more flexible with your schedule. Learning time management skills is the key to making this process successful. You must make a study schedule and adhere to it or else you will find yourself overwhelmed.
Note: Seek help from your financial aid advisor and your academic advisor to make things easier. A financial advisor can tell you if you qualify for more financial assistance and your academic advisor can help you rearrange your class schedule if needed.
If you are looking at being more flexible at work, there are multiple options that you have. For instance, you could cut back on how many hours you do a week. However, this will, of course, affect your paycheck. If you can’t afford to do this, can you work the same number of hours, just over fewer days? Compressing your hours is possible, and you are allowed to ask your employer to do this. You will need to say that this is a statutory request, but then you can state the changes you would like to be made, so exactly what days and hours you want to do, and date this document. If you can explain how this change can positively impact you, then this can help. Of course, your employer can always say no, so do bear this in mind, especially if they are concerned about how it would affect work, re-organizing other staff members days and hours, the cost, and whether there would be enough work for you during the hours that you are requesting.
If you find yourself facing this situation and are concerned about juggling work and studying, can you assess your studying hours instead? If you opt for an online course, for example, you may be granted a little bit more flexibility. Although this does depend on the course and school itself, many schools offer flexibility to their students to fit in their studies when possible for them. When researching colleges, make this a key consideration. If you can’t see it on their website, why not ask them? They will be more than happy to answer any queries that you have. Most schools understand the importance of their students earning a living while studying due to rising costs.
Getting a more accommodating job to your studying hours could also be an option if your current employer isn’t willing to make any changes.
When it comes to working and studying at the same time, everyone will find themselves facing a slightly different solution. Some may even find themselves actually staying at home to complete their studies as a result.
Staying in Touch While Creating New Social Circles
Your connection with your loved ones, family and friends you may have left at home, are important to keep you encouraged and motivated to succeed. Stay in touch on a regular basis.
However, you want to make sure that you don’t visit home too early after moving away. You need to give yourself plenty of time to get used to your new situation, and going home too early can make it even harder, as those familiar home comforts will greet you and make it appealing not to go back. Although the idea of not going back in at least the first six weeks can feel extremely daunting, there are other ways that you can keep in contact without needing to head back home for a weekend.
We live in a world that makes it easy to bridge the gap that long distances may cause. Besides calling, Skype, Facebook, and other social online tools can lessen the stress of being apart. If you don’t want to constantly reach out to your loved ones at home, the key thing here will be making friends on campus and your course. Remember, everyone will feel the same and be looking to form friendships. So make sure to strike up a conversation with as many new people as you can in those first couple of days. While it may be scary, if you make the first move and introduce yourself to someone, you could find a close ally and make the settling-in period a lot easier. One great way to get to know people is to cook and eat together. Ask your roommate if they want to make food with you or a group of people from your course if they would like to grab some lunch while waiting for the next lecture. This is a great way to bond and learn more about one another. Another great tip is to form study groups. And if you reach out to campus social groups to find others who have things in common with you, you will be certain that you will find friends in no time. You can keep the ties at home while also creating new circles of friends at school.
Note: It is good to find out what social groups are active on your campus before you leave home, this way you will have some direction in knowing how to connect with like-minded individuals once you arrive
Yes, leaving home and familiar surroundings for the first time can be challenging but with planning and preparation you will be able to look back on one of the most exciting and memorable times of your life. Remember to always seek assistance and support from those around you whether at home or at school.
College Living Advice
Pics courtesy of Google Images