Things to keep in mind on your first day of college

It’s normal to feel a bit nervous at the beginning of the college year

Written by spunout


It’s normal to feel nervous on your first day of college. If you are feeling uncomfortable in your new college environment, know that things can get better over time. 

Things to keep in mind during the first days of college

The beginning of college can be an exciting new chapter in your life, but it’s natural to feel nervous about this new step. This is particularly true if you are going to college during the pandemic.

If you’re nervous about going to college, there are small actions and supports that can help you. Here are some things to keep in mind during your first days of college.

Ease yourself in

As COVID-19 restrictions are lifted and some colleges return to in-person learning, you may be experiencing mixed feelings. It is completely normal to feel anxious and overwhelmed at this time. In fact, it is quite likely that many of your peers feel the same about the gradual return to normality.

You don’t have to do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable, even if other people are doing it. It’s important to take things at your own pace. If someone asks you to a social gathering that you feel you are not ready for, it is completely ok to say no. You do not need to give an explanation. However, if you are open to some social time, you could offer an alternative suggestion that would work for you both. 

No matter how you feel about the easing of restrictions, it is very important that you prioritise your safety and continue to follow the government guidelines around COVID-19 .

You are not alone

Most people will be hoping to make new friends and this should make it easier to meet new people. If you’re feeling awkward, that’s completely ok. Read more about how to start a conversation with someone new.

Big lecture halls aren’t so bad

It may seem intimidating if there are hundreds of people all packed into one lecture hall. However, you can use this opportunity to start talking to the people sitting next to you, and you will get used to the size of the room eventually.

Tutorials will help you

Many modules will have a tutorial group you must take part in, especially modules with a high number of students. This allows you to go more in-depth on some of the topics and you can ask your tutor questions. This can also be a great opportunity to make new friends, as the tutorial groups are generally small.

You will settle into your workload

The first few days can be overwhelming when you start your lectures and find out about the assignments, exams and readings you’ll have to do. It can take time to understand your subjects, but after a few lectures you will start to settle into the course. Most lecturers will ease you into assignments, as they know you’re adjusting to college life.

You’ll find your way around soon enough

During your first week or two, college may seem like a strange and alien place. However, you will quickly get into a routine and soon find the place is very familiar. 

Ask for directions

It is ok to ask people for directions to rooms, the library or cafeteria. Nobody will mind and people are used to the influx of new students every year.

Join some clubs or societies

Societies are great spots for new friends. This can range from clubs that focus on sport, such as karate, to groups that focus on knitting, reading, or drinking tea. There will be so many to choose from, you just need to find what’s right for you.

Remember college doesn’t have to be about drinking

Many people associate college students with alcohol and parties, but that’s not how every student likes to spend their time. You don’t have to drink if you don’t want to, it’s up to you to decide how you like to spend your time. Read our advice if you’re feeling nervous about going to a party but not drinking.

Get to know your housemates

If you’re living in a house or in student accommodation, get to know your housemates and the people who live near you. It will make communicating easier, but you could also end up making some really great friends.

Sharing a home with somebody else can be really enjoyable, but it may also bring some challenges. This is completely normal. Find out more about how to prevent and deal with problems with housemates.

Step outside your comfort zone

This could mean chatting to someone you wouldn’t normally chat with, going to a pub or club you don’t really like, checking out a gig, or just sitting down to eat at a table with people you don’t know. Good things can come from unexpected places.

Get involved with the student union

Volunteering or helping to fundraise for the student union can be another great way to meet people and to feel a part of your new community.

Talk to someone

If you are finding it hard to settle in, there are people that you can reach out to. Many third level institutions have mentoring programmes for first years. These programmes aim to help students get used to life at college. You can also go to the welfare officer in your students’ union to talk about how you’re settling in and look for advice on getting to know people.

If you experience a mental health difficulty during college, know that you are not alone. Find out more about mental health supports for college students.

Financial stress is something that many college students face. If you are feeling worried about money, know that there are financial supports available to college students in Ireland. Find out more about how to deal with financial stress in college.

If you need emotional support at any time, our free, 24/7 text support service 50808 is there to help:

Feeling overwhelmed or want to talk to someone right now?

If you are a customer of the 48 or An Post network or cannot get through using the ‘50808’ short code please text HELLO to 086 1800 280 (standard message rates may apply). Some smaller networks do not support short codes like ‘50808’.

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