Welcome, New Gators! It’s Time to Leave That Stress Behind

Hey, Allegheny College first-year Gators, August 24 is fast approaching and that means it’s almost showtime — moving in, exploring campus, and getting to class.

For some of you, the stress level might be ratcheting up, but there’s no need for that.

Stay calm. Stay cool. Stay collected. With that in mind, here is some quick advice from our on-campus experts to help you enjoy a stress-free beginning to your first semester as a Gator.

“College is an exciting new adventure, but it can be a bit scary, and that’s OK,” says Trae Yeckley, director of Allegheny’s Counseling and Personal Development Center. “Everyone is coming in with different expectations and different experiences. Be open to try new things but be OK with setting boundaries. Know that your attitude may change from moment to moment, and that’s totally normal.”

You may ask: But how do I remain calm when everything is so new every day?

“Don’t try to fit your entire college experience in the first few weeks. Make sure that you take time for yourself, and stay connected with friends/family back home,” Yeckley advises. “Remind yourself that you are not alone and that many others are also feeling anxious. Check in with yourself to make sure that you are meeting your needs like eating, sleeping, and showering. Reach out to trusted friends/family for support, and use your campus resources. The Counseling and Personal Development Center is a good resource available to all students.”

There may be some anxiety-producing moments in your first few weeks away from home, Yeckley says, but that’s to be expected.

“The nights toward the end of your first week on campus tend to be a bit overwhelming. The novelty of dorm life is starting to wear off and homesickness might start creeping in. Have times set up to chat with friends and family back home, and make sure that you’re taking space to do things that you enjoy, maybe even by yourself,” Yeckley says. “The first day of classes also tends to be a bit overwhelming. Schedule times to meet with your professors early on in the semester; they can give you tips and important information that can help you study and stay on top of your work.”

The 2019 Student Involvement Fair is scheduled for 5 p.m. on Thursday, August 29, in Gator Quad. Put it on your calendar. (This year’s fair also will include a special student-planned celebration — with entertainment by Imagine Circus — to welcome President Hilary L. Link to Allegheny, who began her tenure as Allegheny’s 22nd president in July.)

“The Student Involvement Fair is a great place to explore all the clubs that Allegheny has to offer and a great way to get plugged in to campus life,” says Yeckley. “If that’s too overwhelming for you, getting to know your RA and getting involved with Residence Life programming is a great way to start making connections in your residence hall and can help prevent isolation.”

Also, it’s important to take care of yourself. “You have to eat right, sleep a decent amount, get some exercise, and take time to engage in healthy self-care. If you’re starting to feel a little run down, check in with the Winslow Health Center. If you’re starting to struggle with taking care of your basic needs, make sure you check in with the Counseling and Personal Development Center,” says Yeckley.

And speaking of the Winslow Health Center, its director, Sandra Livingston, shares her “Top Tips to Staying Healthy on Campus:”

  • Eat right — Remember to include fruits and vegetables in your meals.
  • Exercise— Find time to do some type of moderate physical activity.
  • Get enough sleep— Establishing a good sleep routine is essential to staying healthy.
  • Wash your hands— Germs spread quickly on a college campus. Good handwashing is the best way to prevent the spread of germs.
  • Don’t smoke or vape — Studies show that both decrease the ability of the immune system to protect your health.
  • Avoid caffeine and sugary drinks.
  • When the time comes, get a flu shot — Flu shots are available on campus but are also available at local pharmacies.
  • Drink lots of water — Staying hydrated boosts the immune system.
  • Call for an appointment at Winslow Health Center if you are concerned about your physical health.

Finally, and maybe most importantly, Yeckley says, learn to manage your time well, and don’t procrastinate: “If you need help with time management, don’t be afraid to reach out to resources like the Learning Commons. Talk to your professors and utilize their office hours; they want to hear from you!

“At times it can feel really isolating to start college, but remember that you are not alone,” Yeckley says. “Don’t be afraid to reach out for support from friends, RAs, the Dean of Students Office, Counseling and Personal Development Center, or any of the other resources on campus. We’re here to help you find ways to make Allegheny feel like home.”