The Best Four Years?
What to do when college is not the best time of your life.
Written by LifeFiled under
Having said all this, my first piece of advice is to take all advice, mine included, with a grain of salt. College is a time to begin the transition to adulthood, which means you want to come to know and trust your own judgment. This doesn’t happen overnight, and you need to make a concerted effort to get to know yourself, including what advice rings true to you based on self-knowledge. One sure-fire sign that you’re getting bad advice is that it makes you feel lousy—less confident, more rivalrous, and less optimistic.
Here are my recommendations to freshmen just starting school:
a) Be optimistic. You should enjoy college most of the time. Don’t expect to enjoy it all the time.
b) Do your classwork. If you stay on top of your school work you’ll probably enjoy college. If you don’t, you won’t. It’s that simple.
c) Make at least one friend. If you do your work and make a friend, you’ll enjoy college.
d) Deal with your problems. Problems are inevitable. They’re part of life. Learning how to deal with them will help you become an adult. Don’t bury your head in the sand and hope your problems will solve themselves. They won’t.
e) Get help. Don’t be ashamed if you’re having a problem. One of the hallmarks of being an adult is knowing when to get help. Don’t delay getting help until the problem is really difficult to solve.
f) Keep your parents in the loop. College is a time to develop independence. But your parents have life experience and your best interests at heart. They are a valuable resource. Make use of them. If your parents can’t help, find an appropriate adult who can.
g) Don’t give up. Many students flounder in college. There is no shame in this, and most students who struggle in college succeed in life. The lessons learned coping with the challenges of college help them to succeed in life.
For more see my Psychology Today blog, The College Shrink.
David Leibow, M.D. is a psychiatrist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital and a faculty member of the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. He is the author of “Love, Pain, and the Whole Damn Thing: How to Reap the Rewards of Adulthood and Find Real Happiness.”