by Kathy Kirchoff

You knew this would be an exciting time in your life, but you may not have expected all the stress (.pdf) that comes along with college life. You feel overwhelmed by your new class environment, new living arrangements, new people, and new freedoms and responsibilities.


You are not alone. Such feelings of loneliness, isolation, depression, and anxiety are common for college students their first year of college. But these feelings will pass as you adjust to the new normal. There are steps you can take to relieve your stress:


College Life

  • Make new friends. This will help ease your loneliness now that your old friends and family aren’t around.
  • Find a mentor. A student a year or two ahead of you can offer you invaluable advice and guide you through the tough spots.
  • Keep in touch with your family regularly. You need some familiarity and stability amongst all the confusion. They want to hear from you and to help you adjust. It is easy to stay in contact with them by phone, e-mail, and webcam.
  • Try new things. College life gives you the chance to spread your wings, go in many directions, and learn new things. Keeping yourself busy will help with the loneliness and isolation too.
  • Be responsible. Weigh the consequences—the pros and cons—of each situation. It's not about who gets there first. Your decisions and actions can have a lifelong effect on yourself and others.



  • Have a budget and stick to it. This will not only help you to meet your expenses, but it will also ease your money-related stress.
  • Seek out additional sources of income if you're already in a money crunch. This could mean asking your family for help, working more hours, going to school part-time, or making other living arrangements.



  • Talk with your instructors if you are having problems with classes. They want to help you succeed.
  • Talk with your academic counselor. They are there to help you make decisions about a career, what classes to take, or academic problems. They can even refer you to a counselor if you are having personal issues.
  • Attend class every day. Going to class is your responsibility. Skipping class is like throwing away money. Your priority for going to college is to learn and graduate prepared for the workforce.
  • Develop good study and organization habits. Keep up on your assignments to avoid last minute all-nighters. Take frequent study breaks.



  • Take care of yourself when you are under stress. Get enough sleep and eat regular, healthy meals.
  • Exercise regularly and take time to relax.
  • Know what to do if you get sick. Take time off from activities to get better and see a doctor, if necessary.


You will make it through this challenging time. Watch for signs of stress, and don’t be afraid to ask for help along the way. Some campuses offer a "first-year college experience" course to help you adjust and improve study habits, decision making, relationships, and finances.


Visit GPS LifePlan for more information on how to transition successfully to college and other resources for your career, educational, and financial needs.