Easing the College Transition


Diverse Hands Holding The Word College

Evodie Katanda, Staff Writer

New Beginning

A college degree is often the first step toward building a professional career in many industries. Although many freshman students find they enjoy the freedom and flexibility of college, it takes time to adjust to the increased expectations and new environment.

More than 30 percent of students drop out after their first year of college according to College Atlas. Of those that stay in college, more than one in three students transfer at least once according to Inside Higher Ed. But there is no need to panic! Here are some tips to ensure your first year starts off smoothly.

Dealing with Stress

Stress is to be expected and it’s not always negative. However, left to its own devices, stress can become so overwhelming that it interferes with students’ ability to focus on daily lectures and important tasks. Managing stress in a healthy way is important to surviving your freshman year. It’s all about finding a routine that you’re most comfortable with and sticking to it. You’ll be more successful if you learn how to “incorporate extracurricular activities within your daily routine,” said Hylton school counselor Mr. Corey Eaton.  Consider joining a club or participating in an outdoor activity like hiking.


Many students are away from their support circle for the first time. Building a new network of connections is good for your health and well-being. People who have strong social relationships are less likely to die prematurely than people who are isolated, and the effect of social ties on lifespan is twice as strong as that of exercising according to LiveScience. Spending time with friends and having someone to lean on helps manage stress.  

“[College is] about being able to communicate with other people, to make friends, to have a wonderful time and learn how to do that away from home without any constraints,” said Mrs. Laurie Covington, Hylton school counselor.

Find a person who shares the same interests as you, it could be in fashion, movies, tv shows or sports.

Hylton alumna and current freshman at Hampton University Karle Traoré said, “My biggest challenge was trying to find where I fit the most since my friends here were a lot different than the people I would’ve hung out with in high school.”

While college offers many opportunities to socialize and meet new people, students need to be careful not to put themselves in vulnerable positions.

“All my female friends can speak of a time some creep weirded us out or didn’t want to take no for an answer or made us feel a type of way,” said Howard University alumna Faatima Brown. “Be safe and listen to your instincts. They are there to protect you, but these party environments, drugs and alcohol dim those instincts.”

Time Management

First, map out your ideas and schedule; do not procrastinate!

You get to plan your day & you get a lot of free time, so use it wisely! Find a good routine and stick with it,” said Sylvia Chan, Hylton alumna and current freshman at James Madison University.

If you know you have a test coming up next week, do not cram the night before to get everything memorized. Spread out your studies by using the spacing effect, a studying technique that spreads out information over time. Every day, review important information for 15 to 30 minutes. Taking the time before or after each class to go back and look at notes, presentations and class materials will help you stay on top of the information. You will be at a good place before your test day.

Apps such as Khan Academy help students strengthen their analytic skills by providing insights that allows them to address a weakness. For example, if a student is struggling with calculus, she can either post a question or watch a video that would walk her through the procedure one step at a time. Quizlet and Kahoot are also great learning tools to explore any subject.


When you’re on your own for the first time, it’s important to take care of yourself and make good decisions to support a healthy lifestyle. Self-care is an important component to thrive in a new environment.

Get enough sleep and aim for a balanced diet. Look for healthy options at the dining hall. Don’t live on Ramen noodles, pizza and fries. College students can visit their college recreation center to see what the facility offers. Many rec centers offer exercise classes, club sports and other activities like rock climbing. Usually these offerings are already included in your tuition.  Freshman year of college is a big milestone. Embrace the challenges and opportunities that come your way. It will be gone before you know it.

College is NOT for me..

College is a time of self-discovery. Oftentimes, plans change and dreams evolve. Some students might feel like college isn’t for them.

Local 20-year old Myles Belton shared that college wasn’t what he expected.  He thought college would be all fun with friends, but underestimated all the hard work it would take. He said he had a hard time transitioning to college.  He said, “I struggled with finding the motivation to keep going to class and staying on top of my homework.” Now, he’s taking a break and working full-time in retail.

Gaining work experience often helps young people figure out what they like and dislike. Professional experiences build skill sets and confidence.  Oftentimes, these jobs may lead them to their interests and a career path.

Remember at the end of the day every decision you make has consequences and will build you up or tear you apart.