Starting college is a joyous and exciting milestone.  At the same time, most students report a good deal of apprehension about this transition; and for a lot of reasons.  Being away from home, family, and friends can be difficult.  Learning to live in small spaces with one or more room-mates can be challenging.  Classes will be harder and demand more of your attention than ever before.  And of course, new relationships can be tricky to navigate.  These circumstances can be especially complex for students with a history of emotional concerns or prior treatment/counseling.  We want your experience at Willamette to be one of connection and meaning, and we are here to help you along the way. 

In addition to the suggestions below, The JED Foundation has a wonderful resource guide for students transitioning from high school to college called "Set to Go".

Some helpful tips include: 

  • Start planning now for a healthy transition to college.  Don’t wait until you arrive on campus to come up with a plan.  Preparation makes a huge difference. 
  • If applicable, talk with your psychiatrist, medical provider, and/or mental health professional to review medications you may be taking, discuss anticipated stresses related to the transition, and develop a plan for wellness.
  • If you are taking medications for a mental health condition, develop a plan now(!) for refills and adjustments as needed.  Bishop Wellness Center is not able to provide assessment and on-going medication management for mental health conditions.  Further, psychiatry in the Salem and Portland communities is unfortunately very difficult to secure, as there is a significant shortage of prescribers in the area.  So, there are a few options to avoid a lapse in care:
    1. If you hope to transfer your care to a local provider, we encourage you to start calling for an appointment now.  We've found that wait times for an initial appointment can exceed several weeks, and in some cases months.
    2. Given the difficulty in finding care close to campus, most students find it easiest to remain connected with their provider at home.  Telephone, Skype, and in person visits with your provider at home over the breaks are often more accessible than trying to establish care in Salem.
    3. Some primary care providers are willing to assume the management of exiting mental health medication support.  Please check with your insurance carrier to to find participating providers in your network in the Salem area.
  • Continue to take your medications as prescribed, and please do not self-medicate with alcohol, other drugs, or food.  We believe that the transition to college is not the time to abruptly stop taking the medications that were often helpful in your success to date. 
  • Develop a plan for integrating wellness into your everyday routine.  Willamette students report the top three things that lead to poor academic performance are Stress (47%), Anxiety (36%), and Sleep Difficulties (34%) (Willamette University's National College Health Assessment).  It’s okay to prioritize some self-care into your schedule.  Taking care of yourself and your needs means you will be a better student, friend, partner, athlete, performer, musician, artist, etc. 
  • Be realistic about your grades and academic achievement.  Willamette attracts the best and brightest students from around the nation and world, which of course describes you.  But, it also describes every one of your peers here as well.  Not all of the “A” students in high school will be “A” students here, and that’s okay.     
  • Familiarize yourself with campus resources and engage them! There are countless offices, staff, and faculty standing at the ready to help.  
  • Contact Counseling Services to make an appointment with a counselor that can help you develop an action plan.  We provide short-term counseling and crisis support, and can help you connect with other on and off campus resources.
Willamette University

Counseling Services

Baxter Hall
900 State Street
Salem Oregon 97301 U.S.A.
503-370-6471 voice

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