Unhappy first year

Originally Published: December 5, 1997 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: December 27, 2011
Share this

Dear Alice,

It's past Thanksgiving vacation and I am still not happy my first year at college. I don't feel like I have a solid routine and yet I feel like I'm in a rut. I have a few friends but they're not really people I want to spend my next four years with and I feel like the cliques have already been decided and I have trouble running up to people and introducing myself anyway. I'm bored all of the time and I sleep an ungodly amount of my life away, and all the literature says that I should be adjusted and having a swingin' time by now. And I'm not. I just want to take control of my life and make it, y'know, START, but I don't have the energy and I wouldn't know where to begin anyway.


Sufferin' Sucka-tash

Dear Sufferin' Sucka-tash,

The first year at college can be a rough time. You are adjusting to lots of changes, like moving away from home, leaving your old friends and support network, meeting new people, having more school work load, and being responsible for yourself.

You are not without options, however. College is a big place, with many opportunities to meet people. Do you have any special interests? Perhaps you could join a club or group that focuses on one of your interests. Joining a community service group and volunteering with others is one such option.

Are you in any study groups? Ask a few people in one of your classes if they'd like to get together to review for the final. Other ways of meeting people are through extracurricular workshops, seminars, and sports teams. For instance, at Alice's office, we offer assertiveness training and public speaking workshops. Activities like these, where people come together a few times to learn something new or work on a skill they'd like to develop, can be a great place to meet other students, as well as a way to build confidence.

It is also common to meet new people during your second, third, fourth, and maybe fifth years of college. You'll be in different classes and you might live in another residence hall. What happens in your first year doesn't usually dictate what happens during the next three or four. Patience can certainly be a virtue when it comes to forming meaningful relationships.

If these or other ideas don't help you feel any better -- let's say, by next May -- would you ever consider transferring to another school? Some schools attract different types of students. What appealed to you as a high school senior may not meet your needs now. Alice has known a few people who were much happier in their second year at new schools. Think about what you want out of your college experience. Excellent academics? A competitive atmosphere? A more nurturing environment? A larger or smaller student population? Liberal or conservative? Urban, suburban, or rural? Far away from or close to home?

If all of these choices make your head spin, and if even more sleep is the most appealing answer, think about talking with a counselor or advisor -- they are at your school to help students with, y'know, A NEW START. If you're a Columbia student, Counseling and Psychological Services (CPS) is at x4-2468.