Leaving home for college is exciting and exhilarating… and also 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 an acceptable and highly valuable way of working on problems, whether big and small. At the Psychological Counseling Center (PCC) we provide brief psychotherapy to over 700 students each academic year. We encourage you to contact us at 845-257-2920 if you think counseling may benefit you.
Over the years, we have observed a few challenges that many incoming students experience:
- Leaving friends, partners, pets, family, siblings, neighborhood, church/synagogue/mosque
- Making new friends and missing old 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, gender or sexual identity
- Adjusting to different cultures
- Following university rules and regulations
- Encountering financial pressure
- Navigating intimate relationships and 'overnight guests'
- Coping with body image, eating concerns, "the 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 we would like to offer you a few suggestions:
- Connect and share with others - this invites others to share as well, and fosters connections
- Ask for help - visit your RA, RD, the Psychological Counseling Center, the campus peer support hotlines, OASIS/HAVEN, your advisor
- Speak to your family - share your thoughts, fears, and decision-making concerns
- Get involved in campus clubs and organizations to feel more engaged and increase your likelihood of success in college
- Stay physically active... use the Athletic and Wellness Center (AWC)
- Make time in your day to eat a healthy breakfast
- Sleep well – your biological clock is negatively influenced by computer light when you are online late at night; keep 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, and don’t forget to schedule fun, extracurricular activities, as well as studying time (for example, '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 a diversity of approaches
- Consider how your values and preferences will affect your relationships
- Take a look at our handout Thriving vs Surviving - Your First Year on Campus for even more tips and links!
Finally, if you are coming to college for the first time, and have already been in therapy, here are specific suggestions that might 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 them 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 to help you strategize around finding privacy for teletherapy, or for local referrals, so that you may establish a private therapist in the town of New Paltz prior to starting the semester. In some instances, the PCC can offer brief adjustment support in addition to a student's off-campus provider. Give the office a call at 845-257-2920 to schedule an appointment and discuss options.
- Group Therapy – Group Therapy provides valuable support to students. Contact the PCC to learn about current groups.
- Peer Support –
- OASIS, a student-staffed crisis intervention/telephone hotline/walk-in support. Call 845-257-4945 or walk in at Lenape Hall - North Entrance (facing Ridgeview Hall).
- HAVEN, a student-staffed hotline and walk-in support, information, and referral service for students who have experienced rape or other unwanted sexual experiences. Call 845-257-4930 or walk in at Lenape Hall - North Entrance (facing Ridgeview Hall).
- Outreach and Drop-in Programs – contact the PCC or follow @newpaltzpcc on Instagram for information about current programs such as anxiety management, study strategies, depression screening, and other topics.
College CAN be one of the best times of your life. The Psychological Counseling Center at New Paltz welcomes your calls, consults, and inquiries.
We are looking forward to meeting you and providing the services that will help you to complete your dreams.
Adapted from Dr. Pam Atkins (2006) Associate Dean; Director, Psychological Counseling Center, retired August 2008.