University is a fantastic adventure for any person who decides to take up the challenge. However, it is also a time of great change in a person’s life, and the first weeks can leave you exhausted and bewildered. Between trying to arrange all the things that you need to have in place to begin actual studying and all of the new people and places you are experiencing, it is no surprise that many students can feel a bit lost at first.
The other thing to consider is that, just because you are at university, day to day life problems do not simply disappear. In fact, the additional stress and change of studying can make these problems seem much more significant.
Research has shown that students go through a predictable pattern of adjustment when they first arrive on campus. This helps to explain why many 1st year enrolees can feel like they have made the wrong choice in attending.
As in personal relationships, University life often goes through a honeymoon period at the beginning. Fresher’s Week in particular creates a feeling of welcoming and excitement as new arrivals get whipped up in the exhilaration of their new lives and its sense of freedom. However, students can often begin to feel homesick at this time, which can be confusing when combined with all of the positive things going on.
Once Fresher’s Week is done and dusted then the realities of life at university can begin to sink in. Routines that were taken for granted back home can suddenly seem like enormous problems. Combine that with having to become self-sufficient; carrying out tasks like shopping for food or registering with doctors and dentists. These tasks for many students will be ones that Mum or Dad used to take care of back home and can create feelings of confusion or insecurity.
It is not just the youngsters who can have issues either. Older students who have been used to working full-time can find the more flexible structure of university a shock to the system. Turning up to work each day and doing essentially the same thing over and over instils confidence in a person of their ability to perform those tasks. Now suddenly they are faced with having to arrange their own work schedule, in which the tasks and challenges are constantly changing.
They may also be used to living on a higher wage than the student finance that they are receiving. When they suddenly have to adjust their lifestyle to incorporate their new fiscal status it can also create stress and insecurity.
After a while, students will start to adjust to their new lives. As classes begin, social groups are formed and assignments start flowing, people will begin feeling like they are in more of a routine. Confidence in one’s ability to manage university increases and feelings of confidence and normality increase. There will still be challenges of course, but now everything else is feeling more settled, they do not feel as significant as they once did.
This stage usually kicks in when students first return home for the holidays. Comparisons will inevitably be drawn between life at university and life at home and people can often feel like they are caught between both worlds. Home can feel less familiar than it once did, whilst university still does not feel as familiar and comfortable as home.
Students will have grown and changed as they have adjusted to life outside of the familial home, even in such a short space of time. Students who are used to more freedom and responsibility in their lives may find it difficult to live under their parents’ roof and rules. Situations at home may be different than they were before they left as well, and students may lament the fact that they have not been present to share in them.
The final stage is very similar to the initial acceptance one. However, it is combined with a greater feeling of connectedness to the community on campus. Students will also have handed in some assignments by now and hopefully seen some feedback. This will give them a much better idea of the expectations that academia has of them and their ability to meet them.
Students will also have had many experiences with their new friends by this point and they should feel more bonded through this new-found history together. This can lead to these friends feeling less like the new people in their lives and more of a surrogate family. This in turn will lead them to feel more secure and confident in their new environment.
Always remember, that almost everybody will be going through these same stages of adjustment. You may feel that you alone feel this way as people tend to put up fronts when in new situations that can make them appear more confident than they are. Just think to yourself, “If nobody knows how nervous I am really feeling, then how can I be sure that they are not feeling the same?”
Also, take time out to relax, do what you want to do and not what the crowd wants to do, and do not be hard on yourself if you make mistakes. Accept the fear and try not to let it control you and talk to somebody if you are feeling like you cannot cope. Organise yourself well, enjoy yourself and put yourself out there. Have fun.
Studying is all about getting yourself in the right frame of mind for extended periods of concentration. Lots of different people do this in lots of different ways, and so there are no hard and...Read more
You will no doubt have been shouted at to keep your things – your room, your clothes, your dishes, your washing – clean and tidy your whole life. Right from the moment we are born,...Read more
Living with people ain’t easy. That’s just a fact. You will remember how many arguments you’ve had with your siblings over the years. They’re your own flesh and blood, and yet there have been countless...Read more
There are certain milestones in your life that pave the way to adulthood (and then right on through to the grave, but let’s not worry about those yet). Each one is surrounded by its own...Read more