Transition from school to college can be daunting

Advice for students and their parents
  • Deborah Condon

The transition from secondary school to college can be overwhelming for some, leading to feelings of anxiety and low moods, the Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (IACP) has said.

However, it emphasised that these feelings are very common and there are many positive steps that can be taken to deal with them.

According to the IACP, while many people may look forward to starting college and perhaps moving out of home, for others this can be a daunting experience.

"For the first time in many young peoples' lives, they will have to become wholly responsible for their own wellbeing. They will have to become accustomed to paying bills, sorting their own transport and possibly even waking themselves up in the morning.

"Many first-time college students will also have the added shock of losing the support networks of friends and peers that they built over five to six years in their second level education. Added to this is a culture shock of a new city/county and campus living," the association said.

IACP vice-chairperson, Bernie Hackett, acknowledged that this is "a time of great change in young people and their parents' lives". She said that while parents may feel anxious due to the lack of supervision their children will have, "it's important to show your child that you trust them".

"It's a normal reaction to be concerned, but you must put your faith in your child that they can provide for themselves. Discussing with your child their new duties and responsibilities can go a long way to calming your own personal fears," she noted.

Ms Hackett also pointed out that while the first week away from home can be exciting for some, many others may find it lonely. She encouraged students to get out there and try to meet their new peers.

"Try to join any clubs and societies that you are interested in. You'd be surprised to find the how quickly you can build a new support network," she said.

The IACP also reminded students that there are counseling services available in most colleges if they feel they are struggling and would like support.

"Almost every third level institution has a student counselling service. If you are feeling particularly overwhelmed or stressed, these services can provide an empathetic ear in a confidential and safe environment," Ms Hackett said.

The IACP offers the following advice for college students:
-Seek out new support networks in clubs, societies and student mixers
-Limit alcohol use and avoid drugs - these can cloud your thinking and affect your emotions;
-Seek out counselling if you feel that the period of transition is too overwhelming
-Parents dealing with anxiety over their children are encouraged to seek out a counsellor too
-Be mindful that you are not alone, thousands of people are in the same position as you
-These can be the best years of your life, so take the time to enjoy them.

If you would like to find a IACP counsellor in your area, click here.


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