Moving away to college is a stressful experience for anyone. The task of packing, moving out, moving in, and unpacking is already daunting. Pair that with the uncertainty of what awaits us over the next four years, and we find ourselves in quite an unnerving predicament. Fortunately, here are some tips to help you stay on track while you settle into your new life for the coming years. 

Stick to a schedule 

Schedules—the helpful lists of activities that are specifically ordered and allocated to certain times—allow us to bring order to the chaos of uncertainty. We are all familiar with the schedules ever present in our day-to-day lives, especially those we experienced from kindergarten to the end of high school. Most of us had time slots for each of our classes and knew exactly what time we were able to go back home.

Schedules in college serve the same purpose albeit they are much more important given the newfound freedoms and responsibilities that come with college. For example, in college, you will get to choose your courses based on your interests and preferred time slots. You will be responsible for getting your groceries, taking care of your laundry, and completing other chores in between your classes, club meetings, and whatever other obligations you may have. A schedule serves to order all of your daily and weekly tasks and obligations at various times to ensure they are completed in a timely manner. Apps like Google Calendar are excellent for creating a schedule.

Here is what an average college student’s schedule may look like on Google Calendar:

Utilize to-do lists:

Similar to schedules, to-do lists enable us to list the various tasks we need to complete in a given timeframe (i.e., days, weeks, months, etc.). To-do lists help bring order to our lives by allowing us to break down larger goals into smaller, concrete tasks (a goal of cleaning the bathroom can be broken down into a to-do list of “clean the toilet, wash the mirror, mop the floor, etc.”).

Most to-do lists aren’t ordered by timeslots, but by how important and/or urgent each task may be. For example, when it comes to assignments in your classes, a to-do list would allow you to write down all of your assignments and then order them by their respective due dates. You can also use to-do lists to keep track of chores (dusting, vacuuming, cleaning, etc.), bill payments, groceries, and just about anything else you encounter in college. To-do lists are notably versatile so you can use an app or a simple pen and paper. An average daily to-do list may look like this: 

To-do List for September 18th

      • Load the dishwasher
      • Vacuum room
      • Pay cell phone bill
      • Biology homework 
      • Change bed sheets


While classes and other obligations will take up a lot of your time in college, it is essential to make exercise a habit. Aside from its physical benefits, research suggests that exercise can boost your mood, alleviate stress, and may help with some symptoms of depression and anxiety. The best part is that exercise doesn’t have to be tedious or strenuous. You can partake in exercise classes at your university’s gym, join exercise clubs, or go for a walk around your college campus when you have time. 

Moving away to college can be stressful, but schedules, to-do lists, and exercise are just a few examples of good habits to help you stay on track while you settle into your new life for the coming years. Consider which habits can you work into your new college routine to make the transition more manageable. Should you encounter more persistent difficulties with your transition to college, our therapists here at Pacific CBT are here to help. Contact us today to schedule a free, 15-minute video consultation. 

About the Author: Christian Wertman currently works as a behavior therapist in the field of applied behavior analysis. Christian received his Bachelor’s degree in psychology from San Francisco State University and has aspirations for a career in clinical psychology.

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