Leaving home for college is exciting, exhilarating and anxiety provoking. Students frequently quote family members as saying, 'College will be the best time of your life.' Although new freedoms, friends, the university, and interesting courses are fun, students may not always experience the adjustment to college as the good time they have anticipated. Personal counseling is considered an acceptable and highly valuable way of working on problems, both big and small. At the Psychological Counseling Center (PCC) we provide brief psychotherapy to over 600 students each academic year. We encourage you to contact us at 845-257-2920 if you think counseling may benefit you.
We have observed a few challenges that students may experience:
- leaving friends, partners, pets, family, siblings, neighborhood, church/synagogue/mosque
- making new friends
- feeling powerless over your personal space
- facing the unknown
- developing one's own values and morality
- establishing one's identity...self esteem, career decisions and sexual identity
- adjusting to different cultures
- following university rules and regulations about substance use
- encountering financial pressure
- navigating intimate relationships and 'overnight guests'
- coping with body image, eating concerns, "freshman 15," the campus meal plan
- feeling homesick, lonely or vulnerable
- approaching professors and university staff
- managing time and course requirement deadlines
- waking up/going to sleep
- recognizing medical and mental health symptoms early
- asking for help
and would like to offer you a few suggestions:
- Connect and share with others -this invites others to share too and develops connections
- Ask for help - go to your RA, RD, your roommate, the Psychological Counseling Center, the campus peer support hotlines, OASIS and HAVEN
- Speak to your family - share your thoughts, fears, and decision-making concerns
- Get involved in campus clubs and organizations to increase your likelihood of success in college
- Stay physically active...use the Wellness Center
- Eat a healthy breakfast
- Sleep well -your biological clock is negatively influenced by computer light when you are on-line late at night; keep on a regular sleep schedule and limit naps to 20 minutes
- Stay connected to your family and friends at home if they are supportive
- Mange your time - Keep a time management calendar - schedule fun, extracurricular activities, and studying, such as 'write paper from 8-10pm; study break 9-9:15pm'
- Be confident in your ability to control your life. Set goals, reward yourself!
- Remain flexible - adapt your coping skills to college; develop new ones; be open to diversity
- Consider how your values and preferences will affect your relationships
Finally, if you are coming to college for the first time, and have already been in therapy, here are specific suggestions that will ease your transition to New Paltz:
- Medication - If you are already taking psychotropic medications, do not stop taking them when you leave home. The stress of transition does not mix well with going off your medications.
- Psychiatry - If you have a psychiatrist at home, speak with her about continuing your prescriptions once you come to New Paltz.
- Therapy - If you have seen a psychotherapist for years, now is not the time to stop your therapy. Set up a way to continue seeing your therapist at least during your first semester. Call the PCC for local referrals, and establish a private therapist in the town of New Paltz prior to school starting in the fall.
- Brief Psychotherapy is offered by the PCC. Give the center a call at 845- 257-2920 to schedule an appointment.
- Group Therapy - Group Therapy provides support to students. Contact the PCC to learn about this semester's groups
- Academic Success Programs - workshops are offered in topics such as Time Management, Writing Blocks, Procrastination...watch for listings of locations
- Peer Support - OASIS, student-staffed crisis intervention/telephone hot-line/walk-in support. Call 845 257-4945 or walk in at Deyo Hall G13-C.
- Rape and Unwanted Sexual Experiences - HAVEN, a student-staffed hotline and walk-in support, information and referral service. Call 845 257-4930 or walk in at; Deyo Hall G13-C.
College CAN be the best time of our life. The Psychological Counseling Center at New Paltz welcomes your calls, consults and inquiries.
We are looking forward to meeting you and to providing the services that will help you in completing your dreams.
Adapted from Dr. Pam Atkins (2006) Associate Dean; Director, Psychological Counseling Center, retired August 2008.