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What Are the Greatest Issues Facing College Freshmen?

by Paige Johansen

Freshman year is a difficult time for many students. Although college offers the gift of independence, it also bestows the burden of responsibility. The transition from high school to college can be an emotional, physical and academic challenge.

Emotional Transition

Homesickness is common among college freshman. Moving to a new town, living with new people and being away from friends and family all involve emotional adjustment. College forces you to be independent and take responsibility. Often, you must step out of your comfort zone to take on new social and academic challenges. It's okay to feel homesick, and the feeling usually diminishes over time. It's also helpful to remember that other college freshman are probably facing similar feelings. If homesickness becomes overwhelming, talk to your RA or visit an on-campus mental health clinic, usually located at the student health center.

Time Management

Some students have difficulty managing their time because they have never been in control of their own schedule. Sometimes, there is too much to do -- when do you read, study and write papers? How do you balance free time with study time? Students carrying the financial load of college have the extra burden of holding down part-time jobs while attending school. Other students actually find that during their freshman year of college, there isn't enough to do. Students go out and party and hang out with new friends, and then they don't end up studying at all. Sometimes getting a part-time job, finding volunteer work or joining a club can actually help you better manage and structure your time.

Academic Challenges

Regardless of whether you were a good student in high school, the transition into college academics can be daunting. Even students who are well-prepared sometimes have difficulty adjusting to a high-level school where all the students are just as smart and successful as they are. Getting the hang of time management is a big factor in academic success, and this is the kind of thing that you can learn over time. If the academics are really difficult, you can talk to an adviser or a professor who can help you with options for further assistance.

Physical Challenges

The notorious "Freshman 15" is no myth. A study cited by Washington University in St. Louis found that 70 percent of students gained a significant amount of weight in college. For some students, this is the first time they have had full control over their eating. The all-you-can-eat dining halls are partially to blame as are late-night study sessions and stress-eating. Some students exercise less because they are no longer on a high school sports team. You can prevent weight gain by being watchful about what you eat, making time to work out (which can also help with stress) or joining a club sports team.

About the Author

Paige Johansen has been writing professionally since 2003. She holds a B.A. in psychology and English from Cornell University and an M.F.A. in fiction writing from The University of Virginia. Between degrees, she worked in the fashion industry for two years.

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