Timeline

The following is a summary of emotions and experiences some students might face in their first year. The calendar of transition is provided as a way for you to anticipate what your student might encounter in his or her first year. As a result of reading this month-by-month resource, you might be able to anticipate concerns and provide more informed support and encouragement.

August

  • Homesickness and feelings of insecurity are common.
  • Sharing a room is a new experience.
  • Initial adjustment to new academic environment and social life occurs.
  • New and unfamiliar places and people seem overwhelming.
  • Long distance relationships are navigated.

September

  • For some, homesickness is more intense. For others, it fades.
  • Roommate conflicts begin to surface.
  • Some begin to feel disenchanted with college life, finding it isn’t what was originally envisioned.
  • Academic reality arrives (long homework assignments, first quiz grades, test anxiety).
  • Old study habits might not be working.

October

  • Anticipate mid-term exams and grades.
  • Some might feel a sense of loss and failure associated with grades.
  • Struggle to handle social pressures of drinking, dating, sexual activity.
  • If open option, may start to feel pressure to declare a major.
  • Time management conflicts are a common concern.
  • Expect some restlessness for a break or vacation.

November

  • Pre-finals stress emerges.
  • Academic pressure begins to rise due to procrastination or academic load is more demanding than expected.
  • Student may focus efforts to maintain grades or make up for a rough start.
  • Changes in weather, busy schedules, and poor eating habits make colds and sickness more likely.
  • Depression and anxiety can increase.
  • Financial concerns can emerge.
  • Roommate conflicts may begin or intensify.

December

  • Final exams may mean all-night studying and extra efforts to secure desired grades.
  • Excitement builds for winter break and family time.
  • Time management pressures are common due to academic demands and extracurricular responsibilities.
  • Students worry about what it will be like back home for break.
  • Some students may wonder if their major is right for them.

January

  • Some students may experience homesickness.
  • Relationships may have been strengthened or terminated over break.
  • Stress associated with the new semester may appear.

February

  • Students may feel pressure to keep up with school work.
  • Applications for many student organizations or leadership roles begin.
  • Student may over-commit to student activities.
  • Anxiety over relationships or lack thereof may surface.
  • Planning for summer jobs or internships begins.

March

  • Mid-term exams and mid-term grades are expected.
  • Anticipation for spring break builds.
  • Concern for summer jobs or internships continues.
  • Questions about the fall semester—class schedules, confirming major, living options—surface.

April

  • Stress and fatigue continue.
  • Academic pressure builds as finals near.
  • Pre-enrollment for the fall begins.
  • Financial pressures may increase.
  • Spring fever may cause concerns about focus, lack of significant other, etc.
  • End of year banquets and student organization activities are scheduled.

May

  • Finals week creates some feelings of stress and anxiety, followed by relief.
  • Packing and moving are necessary for some.
  • Students may feel excitement of reconnecting with old friends and sadness over leaving new friends.
  • Concern builds over parents’ reaction to grades and moving home.
  • If starting summer school, concerned about not taking a break.
  • If starting a new job, concerned about learning the expectations.