Student Success Center

Rhythm of College Life

Students experience a variety of emotions once the academic year begins. This transition can cause a lot of unexpected anxiety, and Xavier University is prepared to help your student navigate these challenges.

Researchers R. H. Mullendore and C. Hatch developed a 'clockwork' to help parents understand when stressors may increase and worried phone calls to parents may increase as well. Please take some time to read their information below, and please don't hesitate to contact us at 513-745-3036 with your questions or concerns.

Just Like Clockwork: The Rhythm of College Life

Certain times in the academic year tend to be universally challenging to students. Parents who understand the ups and downs of the first college year are better able to help their students negotiate the challenges of the transition to college. Below are some typical adjustment issues faced throughout the first year:

• Excitement
• Testing new-found freedom
• Frequent calls and visits home
• Homesickness and loneliness
• Anxiety about roommates, professors, classes

• Roommate problems begin to arise
• Students question: "Do I fit in here?"
• First test grades returned
• Midterm exams
• Love relationships from home remain strong
• Consequences of decision-making experienced

• Midterm grades returned
• Roommate challenges become more clear
• Many exams and papers due before Thanksgiving
• Excitement and/or anxiety regarding going home for Thanksgiving
• First series of campus-wide illness (cold, flu, strep, etc.)

• Anxiety over preparations for finals
• Excitement and/or anxiety regarding going home for the holidays
• Sadness about leaving new friendship and/or love relationships
• Roommate challenges continue

• "Fresh Start" mentally sets in with new term
• Satisfaction and/or disappointment with fall term grades
• Homesickness
• Loneliness for love relationship back home
• Relief being away from home and back at school

• Feelings of claustrophobia and depression set in with winter
• Potential increase in alcohol and other substance abuse
• Challenges with love relationship back home
• Valentine's Day brings out loneliness, isolation

• Anxiety regarding finding roommate(s) for next year
• Excitement and/or disappointment regarding Spring Break plans
• Midterm exam stress
• Concern over summer employment
• Concern over winter weight gain

• Excitement with arrival of Spring
• Concern over declaring major
• End of semester pressure

• Final exam anxiety
• Apprehension about returning home for summer
• Sadness over leaving new friendships and/or love relationships at school
• Realization of how college influences life decisions

In addition to these more predictable stressors, student may experience the following concerns throughout the academic year:

• Missing family birthday and holiday celebrations
• Missing participation in family traditions
• Wanting involvement with family maintained, but expecting their desire for complete freedom to be respected

The preceding was an excerpt from Helping Your First-Year College Student Succeed: A Guide for
Parents by Richard Mullendore and Cathie Hatch, in conjunction with the National Orientation Directors
Association. Copies of this book may be ordered from the National Resource Center for the First-Year
Experience and Students in Transition, University of South Carolina, 1629 Pendleton Street, Columbia,
South Carolina 29208. Telephone: 803-777-6029. It is especially helpful to those parents sending their first
student off to college.