students sit with crossed legs on the Quad talking and smiling

Supporting Students as They Adjust to College Life

Greg Vander Wal

about the AUTHOR

The start of the fall semester is exciting as UA welcomes thousands of students back to campus, many who are here for the first time. Along with the excitement of joining the UA family can come new stresses and challenges.  

Faculty and staff all have a role in helping them in their transition to be healthy and productive members of campus. Here are some ways you can help. 

Normalize feeling homesick.

Feeling homesick, or missing what is comfortable, is a common experience when exposed to a new environment or new expectations. How students experience homesickness can vary widely. Some may feel this way at the beginning of the semester, while others may not feel this way until later in the semester or after their first visit home. Helping students realize that this feeling is common, and that it will most likely go away as they become more familiar with their new environment, can help reduce anxiety and the impact of these feelings on their ability to function well as a student. 

Model balance and self-care.

You can do this by sharing the ways you de-stress or unplug, or how you found balance when you were in college. Encourage students to eat well, exercise and build a routine that allows time for adequate sleep. 

Encourage students to get involved.

Getting plugged in to something on campus that sparks interest and brings meaning is a great way to help new things feel more comfortable. There are so many ways to get involved on campus. Point out opportunities for involvement when you become aware of them and encourage students to engage on campus. The Source is a great resource to help students find a student organization that is right for them. 

Highlight campus resources.

Sometimes students may need additional support. There are great resources on campus that can help. You can be a significant help to students just by being willing to listen if they are struggling and knowing how and where to refer them to additional support like the resources below. 

  • The Counseling Center provides counseling and same-day consultation services to all enrolled students. Students can call 205-348-3863 to schedule an appointment. Consultation services are also available to faculty and staff members who are concerned about the welfare of students.   
  • The Student Health Center and Pharmacy provides medical, women’s health, allergy/immunizations, nutrition therapy and psychiatry services. The in-house pharmacy has the same hours as the clinic.  
  • The Women and Gender Resource Center offers free, voluntary and confidential counseling and advocacy services. New clients can call 205-348-5040 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5:15 p.m. to schedule an initial appointment. 
  • Collegiate Recovery and Intervention Services provides a comprehensive continuum of care for students with substance use concerns. Services range from prevention, awareness and exploration of consequences for high-risk behaviors to a supportive, safe and engaging environment that supports students seeking or contemplating recovery. 
  • Student Care and Well-Being provides assistance and advocacy to students in crisis. If a student is struggling financially because of a crisis or if they are experiencing food insecurity, they can reach out to SCWB for assistance. Additionally, any faculty or staff member can confidentially report a student of concern through the SCWB website. 

 Encourage them to connect on Togetherall.

All UA students can access a free online peer support community through Togetherall. It provides a space for them to connect anonymously with peers where they can give and find support for their mental health and well-being.  

More Resources

Check out the resources linked below for additional information about supporting students as they adjust.