Transition to College

College is an exciting time with many changes for the entire family. We want to provide some basic expectations, and we also want to offer some strategies for managing this transition below. Every family is different and you may have some excellent strategies of your own. If your student is struggling and you are not sure how to help, contact their college advisor for help!

The first Ten Weeks     Common Transitional Issues


  • Meet quarterly with a college advisor
  • Research options for a major, explore academic interests, and understand degree requirements
  • Connect with faculty by attending office hours
  • Form study groups for at least one class
  • Use campus resources (e.g., writing center, cultural centers, leadership workshops, counseling services)
  • Try something out of their comfort zone (i.e., try a new class, club, sport, activity, etc.).
  • Meet new friends and have fun!



What Students Might Be Experiencing

How to Support Students


Students are adjusting to a new environment with new people, and may feel excited and nervous.

Reassure students, and encourage them to attend classes, social activities, and advising.


Students are receiving assignments from all classes and learning how to create and manage their own schedules.

Ask them if they have a system for tracking assignments and due dates. Remind them that tutoring is an option, especially early on!


The quarter is busy and time management is important. Some students may worry about their work, about making friends, or feel homesick.

Ask them if they are putting in 10 hours of work a week per class. Remind them that their concerns are normal and to seek help. They are not alone!


Students have midterm exams, which require a good amount of preparation. Students may feel tired, stressed, or overwhelmed.

Ask them if they need help with studying, managing their time, or relaxing. Encourage them to visit tutoring, study sessions, and office hours. 

Let them know that it is OKAY and necessary for stress relief to sleep, eat, take naps, journal, or take walks. 


Students are enrolling (selecting classes) for the next quarter and considering options for a major.

Remind them to seek advising well before their enrollment time to get feedback about their courses and potential majors.


Students will continue to have assignments and need to study, even during the holidays.

Allow them to complete their work, particularly if they are home (or visiting) and need or want to work.


The end of the quarter and final exams are approaching. Students have to figure out a plan for finals (e.g., sleep, study time, tutoring, etc.).

Encourage attendance at tutoring sessions. Talk with them to see how they are doing. Give reassurance, support, and encouragement!

Common Transitional Issues

There are common issues students often encounter when transitioning to a university regardless of entry level. Below are some common issues encountered, and ways we suggest families can help.

  • All official transcripts are due July 1 and test scores are due by July 15. Students risk being canceled by the Admissions Office if documents are not received by the deadlines. Encourage your student to:
    • Send ALL transcripts as soon as possible
    • Finish the Orientation Course by each deadline
  • Adjusting to the quick pace of the quarter system tends to be a major change for most students. Also, the academic demands of a research institution are different from what they may be used to. Encourage your student to:
    • Purchase a calendar, planner, or use Google Calendar
    • Put exam dates on their calendar - Midterms sneak up way too fast
    • Seek out academic resources
    • Attend workshops and practice good time management habits
  • Some students are older than the “typical” college student and play many different roles aside from their role as a student.
    • Offer open communication and provide emotional support
    • Remind your student not to make assumptions about how others view them
    • Set realistic goals
    • Be flexible and willing to do more to help
  • The transition to a new place may be difficult; some students may feel out of place or socially isolated. Encourage your student to:
    • Live on campus
    • Seek out clubs/organizations to get involved with
    • Encourage your student to connect with staff and faculty
    • Seek out volunteer opportunities

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