Freshmen Year Fear: Overcoming Anxiety about Starting College

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Starting college can be a very emotional and bittersweet time period.  Most students starting their freshmen year of college have some form of anxiety and worry about what to expect.  Going in with a plan and a positive mindset can make a big difference in your experience there. The following steps are ways to make the transition easier and more enjoyable while managing your anxiety during this new chapter.

Embrace the change.

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One of the best and scariest parts of starting college is all of the change.  Even though the change can be overwhelming and daunting, it also holds a lot of possibilities and hope. 

When thinking about the change that is to come in college, try and remember why you made this decision in the first place.  Instead of thinking about all of the bad things that can happen, try and remind yourself of all the good things and the reasons that make you excited for this time in your life. 

Embrace the change. Try and remind yourself that the change is going to come anyway, so you can either enter the school year with doubt and fear or you can start off with optimism and enthusiasm about this new chapter in your life.  Your perception of the situation can have a lot to do with the outcome and overall outlook.

Get informed.

For a lot of students, the biggest fear is that everything is brand new and you are not going to know what to do and how to get around.  Inform yourself with information about the school. Look at the school website and get information about your classes or print out maps for how to get around if those are some of the things you are anxious about. 

Having as much information as possible will make you feel more in control of the situation and more prepared, while reducing anxiety and the fear of the unknown.

Form a support system.

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A great way to grow and enjoy college is by forming a support system.  Make it a priority to get to know others during that first week. It is a great time to step out of your comfort zone and meet new people and make new friends. 

If making new friends is something you are nervous about, remind yourself that everyone is there for the same reason. Everyone wants to meet new people and have a positive college experience. 

Remember that even if you are away at college, your relationships that are already established are just a phone call away. Make a weekly appointment or plan to call and check in with your family and friends and continue to receive the support you have always had from them.

Set goals.

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Start off each week by setting goals for yourself.  It will help keep your focus on why you are there and not so much on your anxiety.  If your goal for that first week is to meet new people, put yourself in situations where you can meet others and communicate with people.

If your goal is to finish all of your assignments, make a plan and set time aside each day to work on them. Setting goals can help remind yourself of what you want to accomplish during your time there and add that familiar feeling of structure.

Remember everyone is in the same boat.

Attentive multicultural diverse young people sit at desk listen to teacher talk giving lecture or explaining material, concentrated multiethnic students make noted write down during lesson at college

One of the most important things to remember going into your freshmen year is that everyone is in the same boat.  Everyone starting college is going to be a little bit nervous about something. It is new to everyone and everyone wants the same things.  Everyone has questions and hopes and worries.

If you are nervous about meeting other people, remember that they are also nervous about the same things and want the same things.  If you are nervous about keeping up with your class load, remember most students are also worried about the same things. One of the best ways to form connections is by relating to one another and finding support in others.

Written by Bianca Miller, LCPC

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