With graduations over, new grads are counting down the days to their first day in college. For the majority of these grads, college also serves as their opportunity to leave the nest and flap their wings. For those that are going to college out of state, and even for a lot of those that are staying inside the state, college will be where they experience living independently for the first time. It is an opportunity that is at the forefront of a lot of these grads’ mind. Admittedly, living at home can be very difficult at times. There can be many arguments, fights, misunderstandings, and hurt feelings sometimes. Likewise, a lot of people tremendously enjoy being at home. After all, home is where their family is, where they feel loved and included. Leaving away for college may seem like a dream or a nightmare come true. Regardless, moving away for college comes with a high dose of stress.
With everything going on during this transition, it is easy to overlook or willfully ignore the signs of overbearing stress. Often times, there is simply just too much that needs to be done and it is easy to forget to take care of yourself.
Tips for Reducing College Move-In Stress
- Contact Your Roommate
Students are often told who they are going to be living with a few weeks or so in advance. Thankfully, with social networks, it is very easy to find and communicate with your future roommate. It might relieve some stress to talk with the person that you will live with for the greater part of the next year. There are several advantages to talking with your roommate before move-in day. The earlier you start communicating with your roommate, the greater the rapport you will have when you meet them face-to-face. This could easily cut back on some of the uncomfortableness that comes with physically meeting your roommate which is also a common source of stress. Additionally, communication may allow you to coordinate with your roommate to ensure that you don’t bring the same stuff or and you may get the opportunity to buff out other specifics (personally, I like to sleep with the wall to my left when I lay down, so that would be a requirement for me!).
- Be Realistic
A common contributing stress factor is the physical act of moving in. Worrying about bringing too much stuff or not bringing enough can add a lot of stress to students and parents alike. Therefore, in order to reduce stress, it might be a good idea to think realistically. Try to bring items you know for a fact that you will need. Don’t bring extra items “just in case.” This not only increases the amount of energy and effort needed to move-in, but it also makes it uncomfortable when you are figuring out dorm space with your roommate. However, if there is something that you are confident you would use on a regular basis, don’t leave it behind simply because you think you can go without it or you can get one quickly once you are settled in. Stores are all going to be filled with college students also trying to buy last-minute items which will leave store shelves empty. Additionally, you might be too busy with classes and other college activities so you will not have time to go out shopping for things you could have simply brought with you from home.
- Get Help
Moving in all by yourself can seem like a daunting task, especially if you want to check out the campus instead of carry boxes for hours. There is no shame in needing some help moving in. Ask for some of your friends to come along so you can get yourself loaded, unloaded, and set up quickly in you dorm. It can even become an exciting trip for you and your friends. If done with the right people, moving can be more fun and less exhausting. Throw a pizza in the mix at the end of the day with some cold beverages and I am confident you won’t be scrambling to find people to help you.
- Don’t Forget Your Resources!
Schools are no strangers to the incredible amount of stress put upon their incoming students. They know that this transition in the life is no walk in the park. For that reason, a lot of colleges and universities have established resources for their students. Make sure to look at your school’s website to find where you would be able to find resources that might be useful. Arizona State University, for example, has counseling services at four locations which are available for students who may be struggling with any aspect of college life. The University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University both offer similar services to their students. If you are moving to another state or city, make sure that you find the numbers for local resources you may need like police, firefighters, and hospitals. Hopefully you don’t need to use any of those resources, but if the need arises, you’d be happy that you are prepared.
- Don’t Forget Your Coping Skills!
Coping skills are very important and are often times completely forgotten in times of stress, when they are needed most. You might not know what coping skills are, but I guarantee that you have some. You probably call them hobbies, or pass-times, or time-killers, or, simply, things-that-I-do-for-fun. Coping skills can be almost anything If you like to sing, that is a coping skill. If you like to draw, that is a coping skill. If you like to play video games, that is a coping skills. Write, read, listen to music, run, walk, bike, nap, exercise, YouTube, Vine, Snapchat, Reddit, Instagram; yup, those are all coping skills! If you do it for fun and it makes you feel better when you are feeling upset, then those are coping skills for you. They are different for everyone and, by now, you should have a small or big list of things that you go to when you are feeling upset. During this period in your life, don’t forget about these coping skills. They are still as available to you now as they have always been, so don’t turn your back on them!
Hopefully these tips can help you make sure that your transition into college is far less stressful than it has to be. Remember, if at any point during this transition (or during any point, before or after you start college) you feel like everything is just too overwhelming and you need someone to help you work things out, the Peer Counselors at Teen Lifeline are here to help you as best as they can. Call or text at any point and you will instantly be connected to a teen who can help you figure out how to reduce the stress in your life!
For the past four years Luis Barcelo has volunteered thousands of hours for Teen Lifeline as a Peer Counselor. Now, as an adult volunteer and communications intern at Teen Lifeline, he hopes to continue helping struggling teens wherever they may be.