It’s the first day of college orientation. You take a deep breath as you open the door to your home for the next year. You’ve envisioned meeting your roommate many times. You two hit it off immediately in your visions because of your mutual interest and fondness for a quiet environment. But you open the door to find within the first 20 minutes that they are nothing like you imagined. Being a college freshman can be exhilarating but can also be filled with challenges, like roommate issues, financial struggles, and homesickness, to name a few. 

Dealing with a Difficult Roommate

One of the most common scenarios is the one we just described. Sharing a space with someone is never easy, especially when it’s most likely the first time for both. The best way to make it work is through over-communication. Try to understand your roommate’s boundaries and expectations, but also express yours once you’ve listened. Set some rules from the beginning that you can agree upon and refer back to. If conflicts arise, settle them calmly and try to come to a compromise. But if the nightmare takes a toll on your mental and physical health, there is typically a Residential Assistant (RA) who can help mediate. 

Life Beyond Kansas 

Stepping onto campus and leaving everything you know behind can feel like Dorothy landing in Oz. There will be times of transition that may lead to anxiety and homesickness. But it will pass for most, mainly by keeping busy. Get involved in campus activities as soon as possible by speaking to your assigned Academic Advisor or searching the college intranet for clubs, community service, or study groups. And whenever you need a taste of home, dedicate a small amount of time to calling home. Make your favorite dishes from home or decorate your dorm room with items from home. 

Financial Constraints

Leaving home has the benefit of more freedom, but for most, that also entails no finances. This could mean working a job all while juggling a demanding school schedule. Many colleges participate in Federal Work Study programs, receiving funds for part-time employment for needy students. This means a student can get a campus job from the institution, alleviating financial and logistical stress. If this is not an option, many colleges offer financial literacy classes to help students understand how to manage their finances as best they can.

Struggle to Build Connections

Finding new friends will be challenging, especially if you were popular in high school. However, Everyone is going through many changes, and adjusting takes effort. You’ll also be meeting new people in the same boat as you. Making friends takes time, so don’t stress if it doesn’t happen immediately. Just be patient; soon enough, your social life will thrive again.

Avoiding Temptations

We’ve all heard of the Freshman 15, where students often gain weight due to eating inexpensive processed foods to save a buck. Additionally, when you’re on your own with several new responsibilities and temptations, finding an escape from drugs and alcohol is not out of the realm of possibility. The first step to maintaining good health is a good night’s sleep. Try sleeping 8-9 hours a night, even if it means foregoing a party with friends. Then, maintain an exercise regime. It will keep you busy, reduce stress, combat those extra calories, and away from the distractions that are habit forming. 

Bottom Line

So, if you’re about to start college for the first time or are a parent of a child embarking on their college journey, know that there will be challenges—all of which can be overcome. In the end, college is the dream that most students strive to achieve and will provide opportunities that would otherwise be unattainable. Tell us about your challenges as a college freshman and how you overcame them.