Scared About Moving to College for the First Time? How to Get Ready

Young girl moving to college and into a dorm
Ariel Skelley/Blend Images/Getty Images.

If you're feeling scared about moving to college or away from home for the first time, there are lots of ways to ease your fears before you move. You can get started with some steps long before you move to get a feel for your new home.

Sign Up for Notices from Your School

Most schools provide a freshmen update to new students, letting you know about events and activities related to the start of term.

Make sure you're on your school's mailing list, or check the school's web page regularly for updates. Sign up for as many events as possible; even if you're shy, you'll find adapting a lot easier if you jump in with both feet!

Join Online Forums

There are plenty of great online forums for first-year students getting ready to start college. Post questions, make connections, and read about other people's experiences of moving away for the first time. At the very least, it'll reassure you that you're not the only one.

Arrive in Time for Orientation

Orientation is the best way to meet new friends, both in your residence and campus-wide. From pub-crawls to sports events, there's usually something for everyone. Some schools connect incoming freshmen with seniors who take the newcomers on familiarity tours around campus and show them where student resources are located.

Don't Arrive Too Early

Homesickness usually hits when you have time to spare, so try to plan your move for a few days before orientation.

This will give you time to settle in, tour the campus to find your classes, introduce yourself to others, and just hang out. On the other hand, some people might want a longer period of time to themselves to settle in. You decide what's best.

Join Clubs and Sports Teams

Before you move, check out the clubs and activities that your school offers.

Joining clubs or teams is a great way to get to know students from different backgrounds and different education departments. Make a list of the clubs you'd like to join, note their meeting times, and create a schedule for your first few weeks.

Get Together With Friends

As you plan your move to school, make sure you leave lots of time to spend with friends. While you might think this time together will make it more difficult to leave, you'll find that your friends become your greatest support and cheerleaders. Maybe spend a day shopping for stuff you'll need, or go through course descriptions and talk about the classes you're taking.

Spend Time in Old Haunts

Say goodbye to favorite spots—even though you'll be back to visit now and again. Just take your time to savor the moment but also to reflect on all the great new adventures you're going to have, the new haunts that you'll be calling your own, and the new friends you're going to meet.

Stay in Touch

Open the channels of communication and get your contacts in order before you move away.

  • Create your own blog or website. If you don't already have a blog, create one. Post photos, write about your experience, and ask friends to post comments. It's a great way to stay in touch with your past as well as to also say "hello" to your future. And at the end of your first year, you can look back and reflect on the changes and celebrate your victories!
  • Gather your contacts. Collect contact information of friends and family members, but also teachers, coaches, guidance counselors, employers, and neighbors. You never know when you'll need to get in touch to ask for advice or a reference.
  • Make a deal with your parents. Before you leave, talk to your parents about your communication plan. Parents may insist that you call home once a week (or more often) so make sure you let them know how often you'll call and what you might need from them in terms of emotional support. You might find that you want to speak with them every night for the first couple of weeks, then that might change to once or twice a week. Whatever arrangement you make, be sure that your parents also feel comfortable with it.

Take a Trip

If you have time, try to arrange a visit to the campus before you move.

It'll help you orient yourself and find out what you'll need to take with you. Also, visiting means that you get to spend some time in the new city or town. Take some time to explore your new neighborhood, visit your dorm, or to find a place to live if you'll be off-campus. Try to arrange a visit early in the summer so that you have lots of time to make the necessary arrangements for your move.