THE FRESHMAN YEAR AT A GLANCE
- Homesickness, especially for those who have never lived away from home.
- Fears of inadequacy or not fitting in
- Longing for the strong friendships left behind at home or in high school
- Getting to know new people, and finding an initial niche
- Ending summer romances or maintaining long-distance romantic relationships
- Adjustment to living with roommates
- Learning to take care of daily personal needs without parental direction or support
- Managing freedom. Making lifestyle decisions regarding drugs and alcohol experimentation, morality, class attendance, and social pressures
- Time management conflicts and dealing with the college work load
- Academic demands increase and poor study habits and the lack of time management skills begin to manifest themselves in feelings of being overwhelmed. Students are stunned by the change in their academic performance (they made As & Bs in high school w/ less effort)
- Mid-term pressures may weaken immune system: colds and other stress related illnesses arise
- Some first year students may experience depression and increased anxiety
- The novelty of college life begins to wane.
- Students still experiencing adjustment problems begin to wonder if they are really cut out for college. Thoughts of not returning after the holiday break strengthen.
- Time constraints emerge; final exams, papers and class projects are due, end of the term social events, work
- As stresses begin to build, little things become major setbacks. Seasonal depression and lethargy may peak due to weather, daylight savings time changes, a lack of exercise, a lack of other activities or interests outside of class etc.
- Worries about family and parental reactions to new found independence and how different things may be when they return home.
January - February:
- Readjustment to school and again being away from home security and friends
- Colds, flu and winter doldrums may interfere with academic performance
- Pressure to get their act together after having a less than satisfactory semester
- Social involvement picks up; decisions increase regarding drug and alcohol use, morality and time management.
- Academic pressure may begin to mount because of procrastination, difficulty with coursework, and lack of time. Stress and exhaustion may occur.
- Mid-term exams and papers all seem to come due at the same time, adding to the stress and anxiety.
- Spring Break could be a welcomed relief or just one more event to plan, organize and find money for.
- Mid-semester grade deficiency notices may be sent out.
- Many students experience an increased feeling of optimism because they believe the “worst” is over.
- Spring fever sets in: students want to play and socialize.
- Academic pressures remain consistent or seem to increase.
- Colds, allergies, stress-related illnesses increase.
- Time management becomes more challenging.
- Thoughts of summer classes and summer jobs begin to crowd student’s thinking.
- Frustration and confusion may develop because of decisions relating to the students chosen major. Is it right for them, what courses should they take next semester, how should they schedule their classes, if they are not sure of the major who do they talk to about it???
- As the end of the semester nears, students may become melancholy at the thought of leaving their new found friends, their new life, and the dormitory environment that has become “home”
- Final exams begin; there’s pressure to finish incomplete work.
- Plans for summer school, travel, work. Etc. need to be in place.
- Worry over facing conflicts at home with family, i.e. making the transition back to living at home.
- If the year went okay, satisfaction in having survived their first year of college.
- If the year ends with the student in academic jeopardy, worries over how to reconcile the situation and again the re-emergence of questions about preparedness for college.