Freshman year offers many challenges

Rex Santus

Moving away from home can be a liberating experience, but with the new freedoms of college come many responsibilities and adjustments.

Many students feel overwhelmed when they initially transition from living at home to living at a university setting, said Pamela Farer-Singleton, Kent State’s university health services chief psychologist.

“This is a good time (for students) to address issues of independence, both personal and professional,” Farer-Singleton said. “It’s a new experience — it’s the first time you’re away from home, you have more responsibility for your actions and you have to motivate yourself to succeed.”

Shauna Maurer, freshman visual communication design major, said the biggest adjustment for her is the academic demands of college.

“I need to focus more than I did in high school,” said Maurer. “(VCD) is really precise, and it really matters that I do well.”

Farer-Singleton said it is very common for students to feel overwhelmed by classes.

“There are a lot more demands to manage than there ever were before at home or in high school,” Farer-Singleton said.

According to Farer-Singleton the anxiety that comes with change is natural.

“Your body and your mind react to any change, be it positive or negative,” Farer-Singleton said. “Going to college is a good change, but you still feel stress, and you still feel anxiety.”

Danielle Farrell, freshman psychology major, said that while it was not a challenge for her to adapt to the pressures of collegiate classes, it has been a difficult task to live in a residence hall.

“The dorms are small,” Farrell said. “I’m always worried people will steal my stuff.”

Farer-Singleton, who works as a counselor at Psychological Services, said new-to-campus students shouldn’t feel alone, because she meets with countless students who are having trouble settling into college life.

“Eighty-five to 90 percent of my clients are self-referred,” Farer-Singleton said. “I hear their story, what concerns they have; we discuss strategies to be successful at Kent—their interests, time management, ways to develop friendships and any struggles they have with leaving home behind.”

Jessica Glaser, freshman exploratory major, said she feels stressed by the demands of college and being on her own.

“It’s hard being away from home,” said Glaser. “I miss my family, and I don’t like having the responsibilities of an adult. It’s way different … the classes are bigger and they expect way more from you.”

According to Farer-Singleton, college is a great experience for young people, and it can help students to learn about themselves. She said students should take advantage of the opportunities and support offered throughout campus.

“There is no need to suffer in silence,” Farer-Singleton said. “People are all around you, willing to listen and help.”

Contact Rex Santus at [email protected].