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5 Tips for Reducing Stress During Transition to College


Fall is fast approaching, and it is time to get ready for another school year! For those transitioning from high school to college—this is an exciting, yet challenging time. We often focus on shopping for the dorm room, finalizing class schedules, and meeting the new roommates. In the midst of this excitement, it’s easy to forget to make sure students have the support they need.

The stress of a new school, making friends, grades, and living arrangements can be overwhelming for some. These pressures may influence college success if they are ignored. To make a smooth transition, consider these tips:

1. Establish a health care provider at school before the school year.

Students will be more likely to seek out health care if they already have a relationship with a provider and they know where to go. If mental health services are needed, find a provider who is a good fit. Find out what is covered by insurance. Navigating the system may be difficult and become a barrier to seeking help. In addition, the beginning of the school year is often a busy time for many health services and appointments fill up quickly.

2. Become familiar with campus.

Take time to explore campus and find classroom locations. This will reduce stress on the first day. Find good study spots, advising and financial aid offices, places to eat, and the recreational center. Practice using public transportation if needed. The student will make more use out of campus resources if they are familiar with what is available.

3. Get involved.

The beginning of the year is when most students establish their friends. Joining campus clubs and sports is a great way to meet people with similar interests. In addition, it is a healthy and safe environment to socialize. Students can usually sign up for these clubs at orientation or through the college website.

4. Plan a visit home.

Before school starts, set a date for when the student will come home. This can reduce anxiety and homesickness. Students should plan to stay on campus at least the first couple weekends. The free time will allow students to become better acquainted with campus, to socialize and to increase independence.

5. Stay connected with current support system.

Just because a student is moving away, that does not mean they have to start a whole new life. Reflect on the people who mean the most and have been supportive. Take advantage of social media and email.

Parents should check in and watch for signs of unhealthy stress levels such as: changes in sleep patterns, appetite, irritability, mood, energy, and motivation.

It is normal to feel some stress at the beginning of college, but there are things you can do to help manage the stress and be successful! Don’t be afraid to ask for help and to utilize the resources available. For more information, visit

About the Authors

Amanda Delaney, Medical Student
University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health

Reviewed by Claudia Reardon, M.D., Associate Professor
University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health


AnxietyPatients and Families


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  • higgins

    If you're not ready for college after graduating HS, and you have the ability to do so, take a year off to work, intern, whatever. If you go to school when you don't think you're ready for it you might end up not finishing. My husband left school and only went back 15 years later when I convinced him he could. Don't let everyone around you pressure you into a choice you're not ready for. Most colleges will let you defer admission for a year if you need to.


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