Like ClockworkThe Rhythm of College Life - Orientation

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					Like Clockwork: The Rhythm of College Life
Certain times in the academic year tend to be universally challenging for students.
Parents who understand the ups and downs of the first college year are better able to help
their students negotiate the challenges of transition to college life. Below are some typical
examples of what they will face throughout the first year.

August/September                                   February
• Excitement                                       • Feelings of claustrophobia and depression
• Testing newfound freedom                         set in with winter
• Frequent calls and visits home                   • Potential increase in alcohol and other
• Homesickness and loneliness                      substance abuse
• Anxiety about roommates, professors,             • Challenges with love relationship back
classes                                            home
• First exams                                      • Valentine’s Day brings out loneliness,
                                                   isolation
October
• Roommate problems begin to arise                 March
• Students question: “Do I fit in here?”           • Anxiety regarding finding roommate(s) for
• First test grades returned                       next year
• Midterm exams                                    • Excitement and/or disappointment
• Love relationships from home remain              regarding spring break plans
strong                                             • Midterm exam stress
• Consequences of decision-making                  • Concern over summer employment
experienced                                        • Concern over winter weight gain

November                                           April
• Midterm grades returned                          • Excitement with arrival of spring
• Roommate challenges become clearer               • Concern over declaring major
• Many exams and papers due before                 • End-of-semester pressure
Thanksgiving                                       • Final exam anxiety
• Excitement and/or anxiety regarding going
home for Thanksgiving                              May
• First series of campus-wide illnesses (cold,     • Apprehension about returning home for
flu, strep, etc.)                                  summer
                                                   • Sadness over leaving new friends and/or
December                                           love relationships at school
• Anxiety over preparation for finals              • Realization of how college influences life
• Excitement and/or anxiety regarding going        decisions
home for holidays
• Sadness about leaving new friendship
and/or love relationships                          In addition to these more predictable
• Roommate challenges continue                     stressors, students may experience
                                                   the following concerns throughout the
January                                            academic year:
• “Fresh Start” mentality sets in with new
term                                               • Missing family birthday and holiday
• Satisfaction and/or disappointment with          celebrations
fall term grades                                   • Missing participation in family traditions
• Homesickness                                     • Wanting involvement with family
• Loneliness for love relationship back home       maintained, but expecting their desire
• Relief at being away from home and back          for complete freedom to be respected
at school                                          (Blimling, 1999)

Reprinted with permission. Mullendore, R.H., and Hatch, C. Helping Your
First-Year College Student Succeed: A Guide for Parents. Columbia, S.C.:
University of South Carolina, National Resource Center for The First-Year
Experience & Students in Transition, 2000.

				
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