1st year Survival Guide for College students

1st year Survival Guide for College students

first year at college can be tough

College life is one of the most invigorating experiences for young adults. As a college freshman, this beginning opens up a myriad of opportunities. While academic growth is surely one of the main parts of this journey, it is also a period to explore your new-found independence. It’s a time when the world expands before you and offers you a chance of self–discovery and endless possibilities, new friendships, and exciting adventures.

With many changes taking place in an unexplored and new territory, it can also be a stressful and challenging period. Nearly half of college students report feeling extremely stressed, and 81% report feeling overwhelmed by everything they have to complete and deal with, according to the American Psychological Association. Additionally, this is also a developmentally crucial year as it is a transition from late adolescence to emerging adulthood (Arnett, 2000).

Tips to Navigate Mental Health

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 1 in 4 college students has a diagnosable mental illness. As a freshman, when you start preparing for your new college life, consider these tips to support your mental health as well.

This will help you in the long run.  After all, the protection and well-being of mental health are crucial is important not only for surviving in college but also for the life you will have after.

1. Follow a  Routine

Having a routine that you can follow and fall back on regularly is crucial in maintaining good mental health. Your routine gives you a sense of direction and consistency in life. This helps you battle feelings of purposelessness and instability.

Having a routine promotes self-control and discipline. This will also help you later in life and remains be fundamental key to success.  Having a routine means having a consistent time you wake up, go to sleep, and eat the meals of the day. This will make your hectic college life easier. Having a routine will also help you not neglect sleep and meals, which are necessary for a healthy physical and mental self.

This brings us to the next tip: Proper Sleep

2. Prioritising Sleep

Your workload in college is going to be tenfold. There might be times when you feel that there are not enough hours in a day to complete your tasks. Amid all this stress, you need to remember the importance of your sleep. Neglecting your sleep one or two times can slowly turn into a habit, which can harm your well-being in the long run.

A National Institutes of Health (NIH) report addresses the prevalence among college students of what it labels daytime sleepiness. The report states that more than 70% of college students get less than 8 hours of sleep with more than 80% stating that this lack of sleep negatively impacts their academic performance.

Getting an appropriate 7-9 hours of sleep will help you feel less stressed and better rested. This will foster a healthier mental state. Of course, aside from the hectic workload and life, one of the main factors that affect sleep is stress. College students can effectively deal with stress by trying mindfulness and meditation exercises.

3. Practice Mindfulness

According to research, college students who engage in mindfulness exercises for exam anxiety report positive outcomes (Lothes, Matney, & Naseer, 2022). Some studies also state that practising mindfulness reduces overall anxiety, and stress and enhances one’s ability to focus.

Meditation has a lot of benefits. For students, it can help them study more efficiently, improve recall during tests, and decrease the stress of difficult situations.

You can try and figure out which mindfulness strategy works best for you. Guided meditation, breathing exercises, or even mindful movements in yoga can help you improve your mental state.

Also Read: Mindfulness: A Better Understanding of Oneself

4. Find and Foster New Friendship

Your peers around you are also navigating the new college freshman life. Seek out new friendships, don’t hesitate to join new clubs, and engage in college activities. Not only will this help you battle the feeling of loneliness but it will also help you build worthwhile memories.

Read: Importance of Boundaries in Friendship

When individuals spend regular time together, focusing on a common topic or activity, talking about life, and working towards a similar objective, new friendships are forged.

5. Set Realistic Goals

Helping set goals for yourself for the semester ahead can give you some sort of direction. Set realistic goals that you can achieve that will help you conquer the semester. It can be anything from joining a specific club, getting a certain grade, or landing an internship.

Additionally, set goals concerning the little tasks you need to complete for the day.  Accomplishing those and going through your goal checklist for the day will help you feel a sense of achievement and boost your spirits.

A study (Matthews, 2007) by Dominican University found that people who set goals are 43 per cent more likely to achieve them. However, remember that setting goals is the first step. It would help if you were persistent and determined to achieve them. For this, you need to be motivated.

Also Read: What Should You Keep In Mind Before Setting Goals?

6.  Taking Care of Your Physical Health

Sometimes, the hustle of daily life and the stress of academic life cause us to overlook our diet and physical health. However, one might be unaware that neglecting meals and not maintaining good habits can negatively impact your stress levels.

A healthy lifestyle with nutritious and well-balanced meals and physical exercise can make one feel better in the long run. It can also lift up your spirits and positively affect your mood. Making a few changes in your diet can go a long way. By eating three healthy meals daily, you can stay energized, and focused and reduce stress levels.

Read: The Comparison of Mental Health and Physical Health

Minimizing caffeine as it can make you irritable and anxious. Caffeine can also lead to nervous jitters. Drinking an average of 8 glasses of water can help you deal with headaches.


The start of the college journey for a freshman can be an emotional roller-coaster. With new expectations and new responsibilities that a college freshman has to navigate comes the often-underestimated importance of safeguarding one’s mental health. With proper guidance, understanding the importance of mental well-being, and working towards protecting and improving your mental health, you can make the most of your college freshman experience.

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