Still adjusting to college life? No worries—it’s normal


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Remember, it took Harry a while to feel at home at Hogwarts, too! — photo: “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: This Way To Hogwarts.” Scott Smith. Flickr Creative Commons.

I wish someone had told me when I started undergrad that the adjustment can be really tough and that it can take awhile. Everyone told me that college would be the best four years of my life, that I would make amazing new friends, and enjoy the freedom of being on my own. However, I was also far from home, missing my friends from high school, and trying to get used to college life. I soon realized it’s normal to feel awkward, lost, confused, homesick, and lonely (and so many other things) when you start college, and the first semester is especially hard for many people. It’s a huge adjustment, and even though everyone might not always be open about it, lots of people struggle when they start college. It’s still totally normal to not feel ready to call UNC home yet—sometimes it takes a semester or two (and sometimes more) to feel at home. Here are some tips that I have found helpful when I was struggling to adjust and that might help you find ways to make school feel a bit more like home.

  • Know that you aren’t alone. Lots of people feel the same way, even if they aren’t talking about it. You are not the only one who is having a difficult time. It’s a time of transition for everyone and it can be very overwhelming.
  • Keep your door open when you are in your room. This is a good way to meet people in your hall. It can also be a way to invite people to hang out without having to be especially social. It’s not too late to still meet people who live in your dorm!
  • Find a place on campus you like. This could be a tree to study under, a favorite spot in the library, the Union, or an office on campus, such as the LGBTQ Center or Women’s Center.
  • Talk to people in your classes. Did someone ask a thought-provoking question in discussion? Tell them so—it can lead to a great conversation that you can continue over lunch or coffee. Also, forming study groups is a great way to know people while also helping each other out! Especially with finals coming up, this can be a good way to get to know people in your class you’ve wanted to talk to all semester.
  • Join a club or organization. Getting involved is one of the best ways to meet people. In addition to being a place of higher education, college is also a great time to try something new. Check out a sport, a service or political organization, or a religious or cultural group on campus. Joining a club or organization gives you an opportunity to meet friends who have similar interests, and for many clubs you can join at any point throughout the year.
  • Know your resources! There are lots of people on campus who want to help you adjust and who understand it can be rough. CAPS can be a great resource to talk out how you are feeling, especially if these feelings persist. The Learning Center and The Writing Center are great places to visit to talk about adjusting to the college workload and college level writing. All these resources are covered under student fees, so it’s free to take advantage of them!

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