How to Help a Friend Adjust to University Life


Pass on these tips to your friend who is having trouble adjusting to CU.

  1. Admit it. Accept that you are having difficulty adjusting. Try not to bury the feeling. Don’t drink, party, or have sex just to make the feelings go away. Allow yourself to feel sad and learn ways to cope.
  2. Explore. Get to know the CU campus and the surrounding community by walking around.  When you discover some fun places and activities, you may feel more comfortable and in control of your situation. Suggestions: Pearl Street, Chautauqua Park, or Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art.
  3. Get involved. Consider the things you like to do and explore what student activities and organizations are available to you. Getting involved will immerse you in the college life, help you make new friends, and reduce your time feeling homesick. It might feel difficult, but many other students will be going through the same thing.
  4. Keep familiar things. Soften the shock of your new environment by having items from home around you. Put up pictures. Wear your “comfort” clothes. Sleep with your favorite blanket. Eat food that reminds you of home.
  5. Create Structure. Living on your own means greater freedom, which can feel exciting and frightening at the same time. This is normal and to be expected. Establish a routine. Take a time management class.
  6. Set realistic expectations. Try not to expect yourself to be perfectly adjusted, organized, popular, or dressed. Recognize that you’re learning, and have a sense of humor about your challenges and mistakes.
  7. Be open. Be open to exploring new situations, opportunities, people, classes and choices. Try to avoid comparing your new environment to home...they’re different. It might be scary to face so many new things, but they will provide opportunities to meet new friends.
  8. Connect. 2/3rd of UCB students feel lonely at some time during the year. To counter this, find opportunities to meet new people. Invite others to exercise with you. Talk to at least one person in every class. Hang out in your residence hall. Eat dinner together. Join a student group.
  9. Keep in touch. Stay in contact with friends and family. Share your new experiences with them, as well as the fact that you miss them. Decide whether it’s best for you to have more contact with home (it helps you feel better) or less contact (it makes you feel worse).
  10. Plan a visit home. Knowing that you’ll be going home at a specific time may be comforting and allow you to invest in campus life. While going home can be relaxing and help ease the transition, doing so too often may result in constant readjustment and feeling worse.
  11. Take care of yourself. According to research, stress is the number one interference with academic success at CU. Find ways to unwind, like deep breathing or meditation. Make sure you get enough food, sleep, and exercise. Create a balanced life by setting aside time to study and relax.
  12. Start Off Strong Academically. Unlike high school, you are in charge of your academic success. Attend every class. Plan your study times. Start big assignments early. Ask for help at the first sign that you’re struggling.
  13. Talk about it. It can help to talk about your difficulties adjusting with a roommate, friend, RA, hall director, family member, or counselor. You’ll find that you’re surrounded by a lot of support. You may also discover that others have similar feelings. It’s a sign of strength to accept and talk about what is troubling you.
  14. Give it time. Adjusting to CU/college life is a gradual process for most people. Realize that adapting to a new situation is difficult and takes time. Let yourself ease into it, and college will eventually feel like your home away from home. However, if your adjustment issues persist and interfere with your academic performance, relationships, or general functioning and well being, consider talking with a counselor.