Different Sides on Adjustment


The following are some perspectives and different experiences on adjustment. Keep these in mind when you talk with your friend about their adjustment to college living—not all adjustment experiences are the same!

Adjustment IS:

  • Adjustment is a universal process, although the time it takes and the stress it causes varies from person to person.
  • Adjustment is often a process of trial and error. That requires learning by experience and from other people.
  • Adjustment is a process of adapting to a new environment with a new set of demands and challenges.

Adjustment IS NOT:

  • Adjustment isn’t a sign of weakness, incompetence, lack of intelligence or mental problem.
  • Adjustment isn’t a sign of that you are not ready for college.
  • Adjustment isn’t easy for most people, most of the time. 

What do students want from their college experience?

  • A strong education
  • Making important or lasting friendships
  • Having fun or partying
  • Preparing for a good career
  • Learning more about myself
  • Learning about other people/cultures
  • Becoming independent
  • A fresh start
  • Dating
  • Meeting other people with shared values
  • Learning more about their culture/heritage
  • Meeting a long-term romantic partner
  • Finding mentors
  • Giving back to the community
  • Making their family proud
  • Deciding on a career

Common Challenges in Transitioning to College Life

  • Living away from home for the first time
  • Learning to organize and manage your own time
  • Sharing space with roommates and hall mates
  • Homesickness
  • More challenging classes, tests, papers
  • Getting used to a new daily routine
  • Managing money more independently
  • Balancing academics and social life
  • Finding a place to fit in
  • Culture shock
  • Fewer rules from family; new rules from school
  • Finding ways to get support

Common Reactions to Being in an Adjustment Period

  • Excitement
  • Worry or anxiety
  • Stress
  • Exhilaration
  • Feeling “not myself”
  • Feeling down
  • Longing for the way things were
  • Pride at new skills and achievement