You’ve been back in school for a little over a month now.  The rhythm has set in and adjustment is well underway, but you still may be feeling overwhelmed, homesick, and having second thoughts.

Don’t panic!  It takes a while to completely adjust to life in school.  It’s important to be patient with yourself and not loose focus or be knocked off balance.  Here are some tips to keeping it together going into the midterm.

1. Don’t take on too much.

There’s a lot of pressure to join school clubs and activities, volunteer, and participate. While this is great advice, it can cause students to overstretch themselves which puts their academic performance and mental health at risk.  College class schedules are misleading for new students.  While you may only have few hours of classroom contact time every week, homework and study time takes a lot longer than you were used to in high school.  This can cause students to overcommit to work and other extracurricular activities under the assumption that there will be time for all of it.  If you overcommitted right away, consider dropping or putting some activities on hold while you finish adjusting.

2. Get out of your comfort zone.

This is especially important for students who go to college in or close to their hometown or city.  It’s important to get to know your campus and the people in it.  It’s natural to withdraw when you’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed by changes and a new context.  Even if you didn’t jump right in from the beginning, it’s never too late to get out of your comfort zone, try new things, and reach out to new people.  Get to know the people in your dorm and classes.  At this point, you may have more opportunities through group or partner projects to get to know the people in your classes.  As you start to figure out your academic focus, you will get to know your classmates in your major.  Be patient, and also put yourself out there.

3. Balance is essential.

There is a lot of pressure to perform academically, but this can also lead to tunnel vision.  Students will let themselves get overly stressed out about this grade or that, which can turn a simple paper or project or test into a nightmare.  Make sure to study and work hard, but also allow yourself time to relax.  Talking to your teachers, counselors, classmates and friends in your dorm can be the reality check you need to bring your focus back into balance.

The key elements here are balance and patience.  As you approach the midterm, think of how far you’ve come.  It’s only just the beginning, and you’re doing great.


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