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7 Things You Can Do to Mentally Prepare for College

Updated: Jul 27, 2023

Key Points:

  1. Know Your Why: Remind yourself of the reasons why you chose to go to college. Knowing your purpose and what you hope to gain from the experience will help you stay focused and motivated throughout your college journey.

  2. Build a Support System: Establish a support system of friends, family, and campus resources to provide guidance, advice, and emotional support during your transition to college.

  3. Get Excited: Embrace the opportunities that college presents and focus on the positive aspects of this new chapter in your life. Approach college with enthusiasm and an open mind.

  4. Process Your Fears: Address and work through your fears and anxieties about college by journaling, talking to trusted individuals, and seeking support. Accept and understand your fears instead of letting them hold you back.

  5. Set Some Goals: Set realistic and achievable goals for your college experience. Break them down into smaller tasks and seek support to stay focused and motivated. Goal-setting can help you stay on track and make the most of your college journey.

  6. Get Organized: Prepare yourself by taking inventory of what you'll need, researching housing options, planning your schedule, using a planner, and keeping your study space organized. Being organized will help you navigate the challenges of college life more effectively.

College is a big step forward and can be quite intimidating. Preparing mentally for college is essential if you want to be successful and make the most of your college experience. There are many things you can do to get yourself ready for college and get your head in the right place. In this blog post, we will discuss seven things that you can do to mentally prepare for college and set yourself up for success.

1) Know Your Why

Making the transition from high school to college can be daunting. You may worry about fitting in, making friends, and adjusting to new experiences. It's important to remind yourself why you chose to go to college in the first place. Think about what you want to get out of the experience and what you hope to gain from it. Knowing your purpose will help you maintain focus and remain motivated throughout your time in college.

Here are some questions to ask yourself to know your true motivations:

  1. What do you truly enjoy doing? When you're doing something you love, you're more likely to put in the time and effort needed to achieve success. Think about the activities that bring you the most joy and fulfillment. What is it about those activities that you enjoy so much? How can you incorporate those elements into your life on a more regular basis?

  2. What are your values? Your values are the beliefs and principles that guide your life. They influence your decisions and actions. Think about the things that are most important to you. What values do you hold most dear? How can you align your actions with your values?

  3. What are your goals? Your goals are the things you want to achieve in your life. They can be big or small, short-term or long-term. Think about the things you want to accomplish. What motivates you to pursue these goals? How can you break down your goals into manageable steps?

  4. What are your strengths and weaknesses? Knowing your strengths and weaknesses can help you identify the areas where you excel and the areas where you need to improve. Think about the things you're good at and the things you struggle with. How can you use your strengths to achieve your goals? How can you work on your weaknesses to become a better version of yourself?

  5. What are your fears and doubts? Your fears and doubts can hold you back from pursuing your goals and living your best life. Think about the things that scare you or make you doubt yourself. How can you overcome these fears and doubts? What steps can you take to build your confidence and move forward?

  6. What inspires you? Inspiration can come from many different sources, including people, experiences, and ideas. Think about the things that inspire you. What is it about those things that moves you? How can you incorporate more of those elements into your life?

  7. What impact do you want to have on the world? We all want to make a difference in the world in some way. Think about the impact you want to have on the world. How can you use your talents, skills, and passions to make a positive impact on others?

It's also essential to stay true to yourself and remember why you're there. College is a place of growth and exploration, but it's also a place where it's important to find balance. Don't let anxiety and fear of the unknown dictate your experience. Instead, remember why you decided to take this journey and use that as motivation to get the most out of it. Keeping your “why” top-of-mind will help you embrace all the challenges and opportunities that come with college life.

2) Build a Support System

Going to college is a big step, and it can be a bit overwhelming. One of the best ways to prepare for college mentally is to build a support system of friends and family before you even set foot on campus. Having someone you can turn to for advice and emotional support can make a big difference in how you handle the transition.

Start by talking to your family members and close friends about your new experiences. Ask them what they would do in certain situations or just talk to them about any worries or fears you have. You may also want to consider reaching out to people who have gone through the same thing as you, such as a mentor or an older sibling.

Also, most college campuses offer a variety of social support options to students. These resources can range from peer support groups to professional counseling services, and they can make all the difference in your college experience.

One of the most common forms of social support on college campuses is peer support groups. These groups can provide a safe and welcoming space for students to connect with others who are going through similar experiences. Peer support groups can be especially helpful for students who are struggling with mental health issues or feeling isolated on campus. Many colleges offer peer support groups for a variety of issues, such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and more.

Another common social support option on college campuses is professional counseling services. Many colleges have trained mental health professionals on staff who can provide individual counseling sessions to students. Counseling services can be a great resource for students who are struggling with mental health issues, relationship problems, stress, and other challenges. These services are often free or low-cost, making them accessible to all students.

In addition to peer support groups and counseling services, many colleges also offer support through student organizations. These organizations can provide a sense of community and belonging to students who share common interests or identities. For example, there may be student organizations for LGBTQ+ students, students of color, or first-generation college students. These organizations can provide social support, as well as opportunities for leadership and personal growth.

Another valuable social support option on college campuses is mentorship programs. Many colleges have programs that connect students with mentors who can provide guidance and support throughout their college experience. Mentors can be professors, staff members, or upperclassmen who have been through similar experiences. Mentorship programs can be especially helpful for first-generation college students or students who are navigating a new environment.

Finally, many colleges have wellness centers that offer a variety of support resources. Wellness centers may provide services such as yoga classes, meditation sessions, and nutrition counseling. These resources can help students manage stress, improve their mental and physical health, and maintain a healthy work-life balance.

When it comes to fitting in and making friends, try to be true to yourself. Don’t pretend to be someone else just because you think it’ll make you more popular. Instead, put yourself out there and surround yourself with people who share similar interests and values as you. Having a strong network of friends and family will help keep you grounded and help you stay on track throughout your college career.

3) Get Excited

As you approach college, it is natural to be a little anxious about the unknowns, such as fitting in and making new friends. But instead of worrying about the potential challenges that college may present, take some time to get excited about all the amazing opportunities that lie ahead. College is the perfect place to make your own path and explore new experiences, so take advantage of this time to try something new and push yourself out of your comfort zone.

One way to embrace the idea of college is to think of it as a fresh start. This is your chance to be true to yourself and create an identity that reflects who you are and what you stand for. Visualize the person you want to be when you graduate and make a plan to achieve those goals. With a positive attitude and enthusiasm, you can make the most out of your college experience.

4) Process Your Fears

Going to college can be daunting, especially if you’re anxious about new experiences, fitting in and making friends. It’s normal to feel scared or overwhelmed by the thought of attending college, but it’s important to take steps to address your fears.

One great way to process your fears is to journal about them. Writing down what makes you anxious about college can help you gain some clarity about what’s really holding you back and how you can work through it. Talking to someone you trust, like a family member or a mentor, can also be helpful.

It’s important to remember that no matter how intimidating things may seem, it’s still possible to have a successful college experience. You don’t need to change who you are in order to fit in. Staying true to yourself and understanding your boundaries are essential for navigating college life. With practice, you can learn to accept and process your fears instead of letting them paralyze you.

5) Set Some Goals

It can be easy to feel overwhelmed when starting college, but setting some goals can help you get mentally prepared. Think of a few realistic goals that you want to accomplish in the first semester or year of college. It could be anything from getting good grades in your classes, to making new friends, to trying new experiences. When setting goals for yourself, make sure they are achievable and specific. It can be helpful to break down long-term goals into smaller, more manageable tasks.

In addition, having long-term goals can help keep you focused and motivated as you start your new journey at college. Here are some steps to follow when setting goals in college:

  1. Identify your long-term goals: Start by thinking about your long-term aspirations. What do you want to achieve after college? Do you want to pursue a specific career or continue your education? Once you have a clear idea of your long-term goals, you can start setting shorter-term goals to help you get there.

  2. Break down your goals: Take your long-term goals and break them down into smaller, achievable tasks. This will make it easier to stay motivated and see progress along the way. For example, if your long-term goal is to become a doctor, your short-term goals might include getting good grades in your pre-med classes, volunteering at a hospital, and shadowing a physician.

  3. Make your goals SMART: SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. This means that your goals should be clear and well-defined, you should have a way to track your progress, they should be realistic and attainable, they should be relevant to your overall aspirations, and you should set a deadline for achieving them. (SMART goals Guide)

  4. Write down your goals: Writing down your goals can make them more real and tangible. It can also help you stay accountable and motivated. Keep your goals somewhere visible, such as on your desk or in your planner.

  5. Seek support: Achieving your goals is not always easy, and it is important to seek support when you need it. Talk to your professors, advisors, or peers for guidance and advice. You can also join a student organization or study group to connect with others who share your interests and goals.

Setting goals in college can be a powerful tool for success. By identifying your long-term aspirations, breaking down your goals, making them SMART, writing them down, and seeking support, you can stay focused and motivated throughout your college journey.

6) Get Organized

Starting college can be both exciting and overwhelming. With new experiences, expectations, and classes, it's easy to feel disorganized and lost. However, being organized is key to making a smooth transition and adjusting to college life. Here's what you need to know to get organized:

  1. Take inventory of what you'll need: Make a list of required materials for classes and purchase them ahead of time. Additionally, make a packing list of items you'll need to bring to college, such as bedding, towels, and school supplies. Don't forget to pack your favorite things from home to make your dorm room feel cozy and familiar.

  2. Research housing options: If you're moving away from home, research housing options early. Check out campus dormitories, apartments, or private rooms to find the best fit for your needs and budget. Don't wait until the last minute to secure a place to live.

  3. Plan your schedule: Take a moment to map out how you'll use your time and energy. Consider factors such as when you'll study, when you'll take breaks, and what other activities you'll participate in. Create a study schedule that works for you, and make sure to factor in time for exercise, socializing, and self-care.

  4. Use a planner: Keep track of important dates, deadlines, and assignments using a planner. Use it to write down your schedule, assignments, and any other important information. Make a habit of reviewing it daily to keep yourself on track.

  5. Keep your space organized: A clean and organized study space can help you focus and be more productive. Keep your desk and study area tidy and clutter-free. Use folders or binders to keep your notes and assignments organized.

By getting organized early, you'll be better prepared to tackle the challenges of college life. Use these tips to create a plan, stay on track, and make the most of your college experience.

6) Do Your Research

It's important to do your research on what college is like before attending. There are plenty of resources available online and at your local library to get a better understanding of the new experiences you'll encounter, such as living in dorms, studying in lecture halls, and learning about the campus culture. Not everything about college is in the brochure, and not all of it is fun. While overall college can be an exciting and rewarding experience, there are also some negative aspects that should be acknowledged. Here are some of the potential downsides to college life:

  1. Financial burden: College can be incredibly expensive, with tuition costs, textbooks, and living expenses adding up quickly. Many students take out loans to cover these costs, which can result in significant debt after graduation.

  2. Academic pressure: The academic demands of college can be intense, with a heavy workload and high expectations from professors. Students may struggle to keep up with the coursework or feel overwhelmed by the pressure to perform well.

  3. Homesickness: For many students, college means moving away from home and leaving behind family and friends. This can be a difficult transition, and feelings of homesickness can be common.

  4. Social pressure: College can be a time of social exploration, but it can also come with a lot of pressure to fit in and make friends. Students may feel isolated or left out if they don't find a group to connect with.

  5. Mental health challenges: College students are at risk for a variety of mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, and eating disorders. The stress of college life can exacerbate these conditions, and students may struggle to find the support they need.

  6. Substance abuse: College campuses can be a breeding ground for alcohol and drug abuse. Students may turn to these substances to cope with the stresses of college life, which can have serious negative consequences.

It's important for students to be aware of these potential challenges and to seek out support when needed. Many colleges offer resources such as counseling services, academic support, and health and wellness programs to help students navigate these issues. By being proactive and seeking out help when needed, students can overcome these challenges and have a successful college experience. By doing your own research and staying informed, you’ll know what to expect and be more prepared for the transition from high school to college.

Keep Learning

Here are five non-fiction books relevant to the topics covered in this article:

1) "Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action" by Simon Sinek

Summary: This book explores the concept of understanding your "why" and how it can lead to success. Sinek explains the importance of finding your purpose and using it as a driving force in all aspects of your life, including college. He provides examples of successful leaders and organizations who have embraced their "why" to inspire others and achieve remarkable results.

Usefulness: "Start with Why" is beneficial for college students as it encourages them to reflect on their reasons for pursuing higher education. By understanding their personal motivations, students can stay focused, motivated, and make intentional decisions throughout their college journey.

2) "Lean on Me: Ten Powerful Steps to Moving Beyond Your Diagnosis and Taking Back Your Life" by Nancy Davis

Summary: In this book, Nancy Davis shares her personal story of living with multiple sclerosis (MS) and offers advice on building a support system. She provides practical steps to navigate through challenges, find emotional support, and maintain a positive mindset.

Usefulness: "Lean on Me" is relevant for college students as it emphasizes the importance of building a support system. Davis's insights can help students establish meaningful connections with friends, family, and campus resources, enabling them to navigate the transition to college with greater resilience and support.

3) "The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work" by Shawn Achor

Summary: This book explores the link between happiness and success. Achor presents research-based strategies for cultivating a positive mindset, increasing happiness, and improving overall well-being. He explains how a positive mindset can lead to better academic performance, greater resilience, and increased motivation.

Usefulness: "The Happiness Advantage" offers valuable insights for college students by emphasizing the importance of embracing a positive outlook. By incorporating the principles outlined in the book, students can enhance their college experience, build resilience, and improve their overall well-being.

4) "Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway" by Susan Jeffers

Summary: This book addresses the topic of fear and provides strategies for overcoming it. Jeffers emphasizes the importance of acknowledging and understanding fears while encouraging readers to take action and move forward despite them.

Usefulness: "Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway" is relevant for college students as it addresses the fears and anxieties associated with the college experience. By providing practical techniques to address and work through fears, the book can help students approach college with confidence and embrace new opportunities.

5) "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing" by Marie Kondo

Summary: Marie Kondo presents her unique KonMari method for decluttering and organizing your living space. The book offers practical advice on tidying up, simplifying your environment, and creating a sense of order.

Usefulness: "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" is relevant to the topic of getting organized. By applying the principles and techniques shared in the book, students can create an organized living and study environment, reducing stress and improving focus during their college journey.


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