Students undergo inevitable transitions at the start of each semester – and for some, it’s harder to adjust than others.
For those who kept busy all summer with full-time jobs and internships, the switch to classes can be a welcoming change.
But for those who took it easy, it may take a little more than a color-coded binder from Staples to jumpstart
the school year.
According to Dr. Judith Lowenthal, a psychologist from Elkins Park, Pa., people experience much stress when transitions occur, even if the change is positive.
“Stress is not always a result of negative or positive change,” Lowenthal said. “It’s just change itself that is stressful. The body and head take a period of time to adjust to a new school or new environment.
“It’s a huge adjustment and different people have different responses.”
Lowenthal said it can be difficult for students because they must constantly reinvent themselves each semester in new classes, living situations, jobs and internships.
“If you’re kind to yourself in handling the adjustment, it makes for a smooth transition,” she said.
Laverne Tyrel, a graduate student in the sociology department, may have a more difficult time getting back into the school-year swing than most – the last time she sat in a classroom was 10 years ago.
She attended her first day of orientation last Wednesday, and hoped she would learn all that’s necessary to acclimate properly.
Though she may be a little rusty, she’s not worried.
“You grow to have enthusiasm for being back [in school],” Tyrel said. “After you’ve been working a while, you appreciate
For some students, establishing back-to-school rituals may help change their mindset. Junior education major Tori Leath begins the process by going to bed and waking up as early as possible. On top of that, she cleans her room to make a workable office area and finishes all of her leisure reading for the summer.
“I know that when school starts, I won’t have time to read,” Leath said. “I just finished a book from last summer.”
But for senior biology major D.J. Kearney, it makes no difference to him whether it’s the summer or fall semester.
This pre-med student spent his summer working at the campus bookstore and taking summer classes, and said he should have no problem shifting into the new semester.
“I’ve been studying for the MCATs and trying to party when I can,” Kearney said. Sophomore English major Emily Barrale learned that starting out slow and steady certainly doesn’t win the race. “It’s important not to put off schoolwork,” Barrale said. “I’ve done that. And it’s not fun.”
Barrale said she picks a couple of nights during the week when she swears off schoolwork completely, but then works diligently the remaining nights to stay on track. While it may be a challenge for sophomore history major Brad Raub, who works full-time during the summer for the grounds department, he said he usually just “rolls with it.”
“I just do it and see what happens, and it usually works out anyway,” Raub said. “I usually pick up to full-keel halfway through the semester. You just need some time.” Though sophomore Lawron Delisser admitted to going on a few shopping sprees to start the year, she said the best way to plan is to think about the task at hand.
“Each semester is different,” Delisser said. “You just have to approach it as a new year.”
Leigh Zaleski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.