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?\n\nLet’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. 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.
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.
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.
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. 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. And reach out to campus social groups to find others who have things in common with you. 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
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