First Year Phases
Many students go through 10 distinct stages during their first year of college. As
a parent of a first year college student, you can anticipate what may lie ahead during
this time of transition.
Phase 1: Early Summer Anticipation
High school seniors graduate and begin looking toward the future. They may experience
feelings of sadness, accomplishment, and anticipation.
Phase 2: Midsummer Anxiety
Students begin to realize they will soon be leaving home, family, friends, and the
security that each offers.
Phase 3: Late Summer Panic
The student is plunged into the collegiate environment, complete with a new roommate,
classrooms, homework, and a foreign social world.
Phase 4: The Honeymoon
Friendships are forming, and there are no tests for a couple of weeks. Time to have
Phase 5: The End of the Honeymoon
Where did all the time go? Where is all of this hard work coming from? Homesickness
may appear in this phase.
Phase 6: The Grass is Always Greener...
Some students begin to imagine that transferring to another school would solve their
strange new problems.
Phase 7: You Can't Go Home Again
The feeling associated with this phase begin when the first time students come home
to visit and are hit with the harsh realization that family life goes on without them.
Phase 8: Primitive Coping Behaviors
Well into the first semester, students have finally learned to use the library and
hold reasonably intelligent conversations. They are excited about the things they
Phase 9: Realization
This phase usually precedes finals. Students realize the great amount of work ahead,
and know that the future depends largely on their academic success.
Phase 10: Putting it Together
Students begin seeing college as a total experience, realizing that hard work and
achievement must be priorities but need not totally preclude time for having fun.
They have learned what it takes to make the most of the college years.
Adapted from: Hatch, Cathie & Mullendore, Richard H. Helping your first-year college
student succeed: A guide for parents and the National Orientation Directors Association.