Adjusting to the First Year of College

Adjusting to the First Year of College

Opening Celebration

Month-to-Month Adjustments for First Year Students

Here are some common month-to-month adjustments for first-year college students adapted from: Helping your First-Year College Student Succeed, Richard Mullendore and Cathie Hatch, National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition at the University of South Carolina, Columbia.


• Feelings of excitement
• Experimenting with new-found freedoms
• Frequent calls and visits home
• Becoming familiar with campus
• Homesickness and loneliness
• Anxiety about classes, professors, roommates
• Students ask, “Do I fit in here?”
• First assignments/test grades returned
• Romantic relationships from home often remain strong
• Experiencing the consequences of decision-making
• Roommate problems may arise
• First midterm exams at the end of October


• Midterm grades returned
• Excitement/anxiety about going home for Thanksgiving
• First series of campus-wide illness (colds, flu)
• Time management issues trying to balance the demands of school, work, family, and social life
• Roommate challenges may intensify


• Anxiety over preparations for finals
• Excitement/anxiety over going home for holiday
• Sadness about leaving new friendships and/or new romantic relationships for the holidays
• Financial strain due to lack of budget experience/holiday expenses

January (J-term break)

• Satisfaction and/or disappointment with last semester’s grades
• Feelings of exhaustion
• Adjusting to being back home and adapting to old family rules and routines


• “Fresh start” mentality sets in with new semester
• Homesickness after break
• Relief may be felt at being away from home and being back at school
• Loneliness for relationships back home
• Feelings of cabin fever and depression with winter
• Potential increase in alcohol or other substance abuse
• Challenges with romantic relationship back home may begin to develop
• Valentine’s Day may increase feelings of loneliness and isolation


• Anxiety about Midterm exams
• Anxiety about finding a roommate for next year
• Excitement and/or disappointment regarding Spring Break plans
• Concern over winter weight gain


• Burned out feeling
• Spring fever
• Concern over declaring a major


• Final exam anxiety
• Stress over moving when semester ends
• Ambivalence about returning home for summer
• Sadness over leaving new friendships and/or new romantic relationships at school
• Concern about finding summer employment
• Beginning to realize how college will influence future life decisions