Chip the Buffalo standing with his arms raised next to a student in front of the Flatirons in Williams Village.

Going to college can be an exciting and challenging time. Here are a few tips to set you up for success this semester.

1: Adjustment takes time

As we make the transition to college, we may hold a lot of expectations for ourselves and others. Sometimes, it may seem like we need to “have it all”: a vibrant social life with lots of new friends, good grades, great professors and a newfound sense of independence. However, it’s also important to know that it’s okay if things don’t seem to fall into place all at once.

The college experience will still happen for you, even if it’s not an instant fit. Coming to college is a big transition that requires some adjustment. Take things one day at a time. Instead of focusing on having the “ideal” college experience, focus on making it your own. 

2: Your professors want you to succeed

Great professors can make all the difference in college. They may help you learn more about a subject, become a mentor or write you a letter of recommendation in the future. It may not always feel like it but it’s important to remember that they want you to succeed. It may be intimidating, but introducing yourself to your professors and visiting office hours (virtually or in person) when you feel stuck or aren’t sure about something in class can go a long way in helping you stay on track. 

3: Self-care is important

Sometimes college can feel like a free-for-all. Without our family, we may not have someone to make sure we eat a balanced diet or go to bed at a reasonable hour. However, those things are still important. Part of navigating independence is learning how to take care of oneself and making positive choices for our physical and mental health. That’s why it’s important to focus on self-care, even if it feels boring or unnecessary. Getting enough sleep (7-9 hours each night), eating nutritious foods, practicing mindfulness, alleviating stress and taking care of our minds and bodies can make a big difference in how we feel, perform in school and adjust to college. 

If you need help creating a plan that works for you, Peer Wellness Coaches are available to help. This free service can help students set and achieve their wellness goals. Peer Wellness Coaching can be a great option for students looking to optimize their personal health and wellness, create a plan for the semester or make meaningful changes in their lives.

4: Nobody knows what they’re doing (seriously)

It may be hard to believe, but most people have no idea what they’re doing in college or as adults. We’re all just trying to take it one step at a time. College is about exploration, and it’s okay if you don’t have it all figured out. Your major may change, your friend group may evolve and your goals may shift. It’s all part of the experience. Take a deep breath, try things that feel new or different to you and see what works.

5: It’s okay to ask for help

Asking for help can be hard, especially if it seems like you’re the only one struggling. The truth is, everyone struggles in their own way and you’re not alone in how you feel. There are lots of resources on campus that can help you address issues you may be facing with academics, mental health and more. Here are just a few:

Academic resources

  • Academic Success and Achievement Program (ASAP): ASAP offers free peer tutoring to any student living on campus or first-year commuting students. They provide study tips, exam preparation, small-group tutoring, peer mentors and other academic support services. 
  • The Writing Center: The Writing Center helps writers at all stages of the writing process, from brainstorming through revisions. Writing consultants provide feedback and advice to support students on papers, presentations and more.

Mental health resources

  • Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS): CAPS provides a number of mental health services to CU Boulder students including workshops, consultations, therapy groups and short term individual therapy. 
  • Wellness Wednesdays: This program provides a space to engage in self-care activities, learn about campus resources and build community. Themes rotate weekly, allowing students to come and go as they please, participate in the activity and have a one-on-one conversation with an emotional wellness peer educator to create a personalized self-care plan. Activities are free and open to all students!
  • Office of Victim Assistance (OVA): OVA provides free and confidential information, consultation, support, advocacy and short term counseling services to University of Colorado Boulder students, graduate students, faculty and staff who have experienced a traumatic, disturbing or life-disruptive event.

Physical health resources

  • Medical Services: Medical Services services include primary and preventative care services, physical therapy, sexual and reproductive health, nutrition, acupuncture and more. They also have a Public Health Clinic available to students who are experiencing cold, flu or COVID-like symptoms. 
  • Recreation Services: The Rec Center offers a number of opportunities for students to connect and find their fit, including fitness classes, outdoor trips, intramural sports leagues and more. 

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