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A New Perspective: Transitioning from high school to college

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Back to school is quickly approaching for many students and some are making huge transitions – like going from high school to college.

Back to school is quickly approaching for many students and some are making huge transitions – like going from high school to college.

"I can't wait to hear him (Evan) say I miss home (laughing) but it's going to be great,” said Crissy Hendershot, Mother of Son Heading to College. “I'm excited for him. I think it's going to be a great experience. It's a whole new experience. Just trying to, if he has any questions and trying to think of everything that we can think of. Something as basic as he's leaving in the summer and so do you pack the winter stuff now? When's the next time you’re going to see them and how much stuff do you take? Talking to him about a roommate in learning to live with somebody who's not a family member is going to be interesting."

And another huge factor students should be mindful of is sleep - something sleep specialists say college students should get 8 ½ to 9 hours of each night.

"It's hard enough coming off of summer,” said Hendershot. “You know you're up late and sleeping in. But that I'm not there to wake him up and make sure he gets up and he's going to need to get up. It's a big deal."

A big deal indeed. In fact, according to the Nature and Science of Sleep, most college students are sleep deprived as 70.6 % of students report getting less than 8 hours of sleep.

"Sometimes it's just that so many things in your life intrude and you have a lot of things to do, and sleep doesn't become a priority,” said Cynthia Nichols, PhD, Sleep Center Clinical Director at Munson Sleep Disorders Center.

Ways to combat sleep deprivation, Dr. Nichols says a good habit can be protecting that 30 minutes before going to bed.

"One good thing is to decide on a time after which you're not going to do anything that's productive-like studying or engaging in an important conversation,” said Dr. Nichols. “Whatever you decide is your bedtime routine, can be different from person-to-person. Some people like to read some people like to listen to music."

And if an environment is too noisy - such as a dorm room…

"One thing to do is, when you place a priority on your sleep, communicate that with your friends so that they realize that you're serious and that sleep is important to you,” said Dr. Nichols. “That way you can be a good role model to them."

But sleep isn't the only thing college faculty say students struggle with.

"The trends that we've seen here at NMC (Northwestern Michigan College) lead us to believe that there's a lot of anxiety and depression that students are carrying,” said Paul Kolak, Northwestern Michigan College Counselor. “So, in order for them to work against that, we like to see them develop some good habits.

Kolak says some of those habits include a good diet and exercise.

"But it's also different in college than it was in high school,” said Kolak. “We want them to focus in on homework obviously but at the same time there are other stressors that get in the way as I mentioned. So there may be family things, there may be a relationship thing that comes in. So we like to have times planned to sit down with them and unpack all of those issues that are coming up for them."

At NMC, Kolak says there are several resources students can utilize for help.

But no matter what campus you're on, he says it's important to connect with someone you trust.

"Whether it's a close friend, an adult, somebody who has some experience going through what they are going through right now,” said Kolak. “A lot of that also ties into cutting down on screen time. Getting away from television, computer, phone and having that one-to-one time or just that time to self-reflect."

In addition, Kolak says the work-study life balance can be difficult, especially for young adults.

And so he says when feeling overwhelmed or overloaded, students should try and not isolate themselves from other people and asking for help is the first step.

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