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Here are some ways to navigate the transition to college - whether this is your first time on campus or you're a returning student

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The start of a new school year brings up many emotions – you’re happy to see your friends, move into a new room and study what you enjoy; stressing about packing, getting the classes you want and anticipating all the work ahead; regretting the end of summer, but can’t wait to begin your life at school again. For rising first year students, the list of mixed feelings, from joy to anxiety and maybe a little sadness, is nearly endless.

Going away to school is a time for growth, learning, fun, friendships, opportunity, memories and preparation for life. Even if you have had struggles in the past, you can thrive.

Whether this is your first time on campus or you’re a returning student, here are some ways to navigate the transition to college:

Take advantage of the resources and support systems around you
Without your family or people from home whom you trust, it is helpful to learn about and make use of resources on campus that can become your network of support. Friends at college often feel like family, but sometimes they will be just as stressed and overwhelmed as you are. This is when mental health and academic services on campus can help – especially during the first weeks of school, exam and holiday time. Don’t forget that your family and friends back home are just a text or phone call away.

Make a special effort to take care of yourself
It’s a good idea to keep up a routine of nutrition, regular exercise and adequate sleep. These are things that tend to fall by the wayside as the semester gets busier and more intense, but they are proven to have a positive impact on energy, health, mood and ultimately, on academic success. If you’re starting a new semester with a pre-existing medical or emotional health issue, make a connection with college health and counseling professionals – they can help you take care of your medical or emotional health needs while you are at school.

Know your limits, know yourself
You may feel pressure to do things in social situations that make you uncomfortable. You can resist the urge to give in to pressure and stick up for yourself. The wonderful thing about a college or university campus is that there are all types of people with all types of ideas and values. Find friends and faculty who bring out the best in you, believe in you, respect your boundaries and let you make healthy choices.

Maintain balance
In college and in life, all work without “play” is an unhealthy balance. You are more likely to maintain a general feeling of well-being during stressful times if you protect your outside interests, meaningful activities and leisure time. Even on the busiest days, be sure to make time for you – go for a walk, volunteer, hang out with a good friend or catch up with people from home. The more you keep things in balance, the more likely you are to thrive in all areas of your life.

Above all else, remember that it is common and normal to feel stressed and overwhelmed at some point during the academic year. Remember that you are not alone and there is support to help you manage distressing feelings or problems. If you’re concerned about yourself or a friend, speak up and get help.

You can text “START” to 741-741 or call 800-273-TALK (8255) for support and help anytime.