Adjusting to College Life

Don't get lost in the crowd!

Q: I was super excited to go away to college, but now that I’m here there are times when I feel a little overwhelmed.  I never thought I’d say this, but I miss home!  Is this normal?

A: When you’re going off to college everyone is full of stories of good times, good friends, and new experiences.  But people often fail to mention that some new experiences can be a little scary.  Whether you are attending a huge university or a tiny college, whether you moved across town or across the country, it’s totally normal to feel overwhelmed and even a little out of place at times.  Even if the going is a little tough right now, college is full of amazing opportunities.  Here are some tips for making the transition as smooth as possible.

  • Be an individual:  Don’t be afraid to make yourself known.  Attend office hours for your professors or TA’s even if you’re doing fine in class.  This is a great way to get more one-on-one teaching that you might be used to from high school. It’s also a great time to ask some of those questions you may not feel comfortable asking in front of a room full of 200 people!
  • Join the community:  Nothing makes a new place your home like finding a group of people that you connect with. The great thing about attending a big university like THE Ohio State University is that no matter what your interest, there is probably a club that shares your passion.  Don’t see what you’re looking for? Start your own! 
  • Use your resources:  Know where to go for what you need.  Whether it’s help figuring out what you want to do with your career, where in the world you can go to study abroad, where to get a sore throat checked out or where you can get something good to eat, Ohio State has someone here to help you!  The Office of Student Life is a great place to start looking.
  • Remember that it’s OK to ask for help:  Even if you do all of this stuff, you may still feel overwhelmed and this can lead to depression and anxiety.  A study done at UCLA found that there has been a 40% increase in the number of students who seek some form of mental health care during the first year of college. If this happens to you, the Student Health Center and Counseling and Consultation Service are here to help. 
  • Have fun:  Remember you aren’t alone!  Look around your classroom or the oval and you’ll see thousands of students going through the same thing you are, even if they look like they have it all together.  Click here to see how it affected a student at Columbia and the great advice “Alice” gave her to get through it.  

College is more than parties and football games, and it’s more than GPA’s and GEC’s.  It’s a time where you learn about yourself, the world and your place in it.  Enjoy it!

Cheryl Czapla, Med IV
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University

Mary Lynn Kiacz, MD
Student Health Services
The Ohio State University