Staying sane during Freshman year

May 25, 2012

Freshman year of college is a binary: both the most fun you will ever have and the most stress. The phrase "work hard, party hard" gets thrown around at a lot of schools, and despite its accuracy, college is a turbulent time full of sound and fury, to paraphrase Shakespeare. Keeping a cool head, especially freshman year, can take some practice. Here are some tips for college students in fuzzy situations:

1. The crazy/lazy/snoring/snooping/cruel roommate. Like with family, you (usually) can't choose your roommate. But if worse comes to worst, you can talk to the Dean of Students or an admissions counselor and maybe find a new one. Before you go that route, however, try to just level with him or her. Some colleges will have roommates draw up contracts at the beginning of a semester, but even if your college doesn't, consider doing it with your roomie.

2. That class you should never have enrolled in. Drop it. If it's too late to drop, look into a withdrawal. More often than not, a course in banach algebra isn't going to be available to someone who struggled through calculus class, but on the off chance you find yourself somewhere you don't belong, don't risk your GPA to save face.

3. You're not sick, but you feel awful. Psychosomatic sickness got you down? It's probably the blues. College is the stuff that emotional exhaustion is made of. Sometimes you need to recharge - hit up a movie solo, spend a night in or buy some chocolate. Mostly you'll want to take preventative measures here. Make sure you're always getting enough sleep, and even if you're not playing a sport spend some time at the gym. Exercise will beat coffee anytime as a mental stimulant.

4. Homesickness. There's no easy cure for this ailment, whether home is a few states or a continent away. Just know that you're not suffering alone, and maybe request a spirit-lifting care package every once in awhile. These don't have to be extravagant affairs, but a postcard or box of cookies does wonders for a freshman's flagging spirit. In fact, if you know a college student, send them a quick note right now.

It's not all parties and papers at college. It's a big world, and being thrust on that larger stage gives us all a fright every once in awhile. Keep your chin up.

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