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Student Looking at Building

New Horizons – Strategies for a Successful Move for School

by Maureen Pollard,

Emotional Health Editor, KBI Inspire Magazine

Maureen Pollard, MSW, RSW is a registered social worker with a private practice in Cobourg, Ontario.  Visit her online at:

As summer winds down, those who are moving away for their first year in a post-secondary school program will be turning their minds toward the big transition from their family home to campus. Like any major life change, this is an exciting time, but it can also be a time of anxiety about the unknown. 

However, there are some strategies to making this transition smoother:

Make a visit to campus. If you haven’t done so already, and if it’s possible to make the trip, it can be a good idea to spend a day exploring the campus. As you become familiar with some of the landmarks, you’ll start to learn your way around and it won’t feel quite as intimidating when you move in.

Take a virtual tour. Whether you go in person or not, most campuses have some form of virtual tour available to give prospective students a sense of the place they’ll be living and studying. If you explore the website and learn about campus resources, you’ll have a better idea of what’s available when you arrive in person.

Plan your packing. Think about the activities you’ll do in a day, a week and a month and make some lists of the supplies you’ll need. Plan the clothing, toiletries, personal items, entertainment, school supplies, etc. you’ll need according to the space you’ll have for storage. The more care you take in packing well, the more comfortable you’ll be with all the things you need in the first weeks as you settle into your new surroundings.

Make a moving plan. Who will drive? Is the vehicle big enough to carry everything you need to bring, or will you need to borrow or rent a truck? What time and day will you move into your new place? Who can help move your belongings?

Unpack when you arrive. You’ll feel better if things are mostly in place by the end of moving day, if possible. The sooner you’ve organized your new space, the sooner it will begin to feel like your home. Consider a quick trip to the grocery store for some snacks if you’re in residence and basic supplies if you’re living off-campus.

Make time to make new friends. Plan to spend a little bit of time in the common areas if you’re in a residence or sharing a house or apartment with roommates. Everyone is new and everyone needs to make new friends, so this is a great time to mingle and see who you might enjoy getting to know. There will likely be plenty of orientation activities to help you meet people, and friendships will grow from there as you find those who have the most in common with you.

Remember, it takes time to adjust to change. The more you can prepare for it and allow yourself to feel all the emotions related to this important transition in your life, the more you’ll enjoy your move from home to your post-secondary education campus. There is a wide world in your new home, waiting for you to settle in and start exploring.

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