Tips for Transition
Being nervous about starting your college career is normal! Rest assured, these feelings will subside within the first few weeks of starting Fordham. These tips below can help you conquer these fears early on while helping you get the most out of your college experience.
Don’t worry: There are ways to maintain your friendships. Although you may not stay close with everyone from high school, you can use different media to stay in contact with your close friends. Here are some simple suggestions:
- Use technology to keep in touch: Since we text and use Facebook every day (pretty much), it’s a great way to let people know what’s up right now. Email and Skype are great for more in-depth conversations and catch-ups, especially if you’re friends can’t come visit you.
- Keep them updated: They’ll be glad you care enough to contact them when something exciting happens.
- Listen to them: So many exciting opportunities are coming up for everyone, so don’t monopolize your conversations. Friendships are give-and-take, so it’s important to know what’s happening in their lives.
- Rely too much on Social Networks: Be creative and personal. Use letters and send care packages, or something else that shows you care.
- Feel like you have to plan your catch up session: While phone dates might work for some people, sharing news when you have it works much better for others.
- Be afraid to catch up: Just because you haven’t talked to someone in a while doesn’t mean they don’t want to hear from you. Maybe calling someone to say “Happy Birthday” will reconnect you after a few months, but it won’t happen unless you dial their number in the first place.
- Cut yourself off or stay too close for comfort: It’s important to find the happy medium between keeping your friends informed, and overly relying on them so you’re not a part of the new college community. You need to figure out what works best for you.
- Forget to call your parents: Let them know you care, that you’re safe, and what you’re thinking about. When something big comes along, financial aid issues, a job opportunity, or an idea for a major, it’s always good to get a second opinion.
Being nervous about college is perfectly normal. Everyone around you is feeling the same way. Here are some common fears you might be facing:
- I'm really going to be homesick.
This is one of the hardest aspects of the college transition. You will miss your family, friends, and home. But remember that once you visit or go home, everyone will still be there and be proud of your accomplishments!
- I won’t make any friends!
Remember, everyone there is new. They are all looking to meet new friends, so be open-minded and approachable during Orientation. There will also be other opportunities for making friends through classes and Club events!
- My roommates and I will never get along.
One of the main things that college teaches is how to deal with different kinds of people. It is crucial that you set ground rules with your roommates and suitemates early on. Each resident freshmen is assigned a Resident Freshmen Mentor that can be used as a resource.
- My course load might be too much for me to handle!
Your college experience in terms of academics will likely be much harder than your high school courses. It is pretty common for a student's GPA to drop from high school to college, but that doesn't mean you aren't doing well. It means you are taking more challenging classes in a college environment.
- I won’t be able to balance everything!
Time management is what you have to learn before stepping into college. If you can learn adequate time management, you will be able to stay on top of your game and get to enjoy everything about Fordham!
- I don’t think I can make it on my own without my parents!
Being on your own for the first time is scary! But college is a learning experience that helps you attain life skills. Just remember that your Parents will always be there for you. Remember to discuss financial issues with your family before you leave. There are campus resources that can help you if you are having trouble. Commuter Freshmen Mentors are assigned to each incoming Freshmen commuter and Resident Freshmen Mentors are there for incoming Freshmen, as well. If you are a resident, learn the basics of doing laundry and cooking so it is not an issue for you when you arrive on campus.
- Dreaded Freshman Fifteen:
Staying healthy and active is important. Devote time daily to yourself for exercise, meditation, or a nap. We have an on-campus gym for you to use, and Central Park and Hudson River Park are great places for you to jog, rollerblade, or bike to stay active.
- I'm worried about being removed from my religious life and practices.
Starting a new chapter in college does not mean that you have to be disconnected from what is important to you. Fordham University at Lincoln Center has a Chapel on campus that accommodates every religious faith. Campus Ministry welcomes all! In addition, you also have the opportunity to attend mass at The Church of St. Paul the Apostle, located right across the street from campus.
- I’m worried about my safety in the big city.
Fordham University at Lincoln Center has 24-hour security both at Lowenstein and our Residence Halls. When it comes to outside safety, you must be aware of where you are going, with whom and what time. New York City is a fun yet safe place. When it comes to making smart choices, it is up to you!
- I am not sure what I should do after college!
Do not worry if you don’t have an answer to this question. This is what college is for, for exploring your interests through classes and club activities. You have four more years to decide about your life. Don’t stress yourself yet! Check out Career Services as a resource to help guide you through this process.
- I'm afraid I won't get the "full college experience" because I'm a commuter.
Don't worry! There are several ways to get involved on campus if you are a commuter. Both the Commuter Student Association (CSA) and Commuter Freshman Mentor (CFM) programs are great ways to connect to fellow commuting students. Each club offers several outing opportunities, as well as on-campus activities that help ease the relationships between commuter and resident students alike!
- I'm really going to be homesick.
Keeping In Touch
The college transition can be scary for everyone; however, maintaining and setting ground rules will help make this process easier. Parents and family members struggle to find the balance between abandonment and constant intrusion in their student’s life. Here are some tips for keeping in touch with your children during the first few months of college:
- Be clear about your expectations for contact. Set a standard early with which you and your student are comfortable to talk and catch up. You may want to set a standard day (Sundays are popular) and let your student initiate the call, or just randomly drop them a line or an e-mail to see how their week is going. Ask your student for input in setting new house rules that show respect for both parental authority and student independence.
- Rely on technology. Use text messaging, social networks, email, or instant video or chat programs to express your feelings. Technology is faster and your child is already familiar and comfortable with them. Phone conversations, especially at the beginning, can be awkward and emotional for everyone.
- Send an (unannounced) care package. Students enjoy getting mail! It reminds them that there is a world outside of their college life. Packages do not need to be huge boxes that are difficult to carry across campus; a letter from home, some pictures and some of his/her favorite candy are perfect reminders of your love, especially during finals and midterms.
Once you’ve established a routine, it will be easy to remain a part of your child’s life during their college career.
What to Expect
- Trust them. The college experience represents the first opportunity for most students to try out their independence. Because many situations are new to first-year students, expect them to make mistakes. When they do, it is important to keep in mind that few of the mistakes they make will be irrevocable or disastrous. Many of them will be surprisingly similar to the mistakes made by most other college students, and all of them are an opportunity for your student to grow into a more responsible and conscientious adult. They will know if you are worrying, so try your best to put all your faith in them.
- Changes. Most college students change significantly in their first few years at the University, whether it be dress style, interests, attitudes, or habits. Even something as small as their diction may be completely different after a semester far from home. Don’t draw attention to it, but be aware of it. They’re still sorting out who they are.
- Don't panic when they panic. Being encouraging and supportive at these times will go a long way to help them see that their problem may be more manageable than they thought. It will also strengthen your relationship when they see how strong and helpful you are.
- Stay informed. Being informed about campus life and events can be a rewarding experience for parents, and at the same time make you important resource for your student. Knowing when their midterm and final exams are will help to explain why your child is edgy. Being aware of study abroad programs gives your child a sound board if they want to visit a foreign country. Helping them understand their financial aid plan will keep you on the same page for payments and job searches.
Starting Points for Conversations with your Student
Allow students space to talk and be a good listener. Asking too many questions at once may lead to your son/daughter feeling trapped or overwhelmed. Pointed or overly specific questions may make him or her feel uncomfortable. Some basic questions that might spark more personal ones are:
- How has freshmen year been so far? Has it met your expectations?
- How are your classes and professors? Are they interesting?
- What do you do outside of class? Did you join any clubs?
- Have you met anyone interesting?
- How are your high school friends doing?