Many people say that undergrad is the best four years of your life — and things like an awesome college friend group and amazing extracurricular activities can make it so. But before it gets great, the transition to collegiate life can be pretty hard; being away from your high school besties and family isn’t easy! Ali Wenzke, founder of The Art of Happy Moving, has some dos and don’ts for dealing with this gigantic change.

A group of friends shares a bench

1. DO: Bring things from home that make you happy. Even though a dorm room is temporary, it’s worth decorating so you have a place all your own. In addition to the adorable decor, Wenzke says to pack things that evoke a sense of home. Smells are especially tied to memories, so a great way to curb homesickness is to bring objects that smell like home.

2. DO: Try to make new friends before you arrive. Social media gives us access to people in a completely new way — which means you don’t have to deal with the anxiety of meeting your roomie on move-in day. Use Facebook or other social channels to connect before the big move; that way, you’ll have some common ground to go off of and feel more comfortable in your new space. Social media is also a great tool for checking out potential organizations to join before you get to campus.

3. DO: Make your health a top priority. “The good news is there won’t be anyone telling you that it’s time to go to bed,” Wenzke says. “The bad news is there won’t be anyone telling you that it’s time to go to bed.” Without your parents to enforce healthy habits, it’s up to you to sleep, exercise, and eat healthy. Since your schedule will be a little out of whack and you’ll be shouldering some extra stress, your health is more important than ever.

A woman looks up from a textbook and smiles

4. DON’T: Assume that everyone is dealing with the change better than you are. Social media is a great way to stay connected with your friends back home and at different schools, but it’s a double-edged sword, because you’re only exposed to the curated part of others’ lives. Someone whose Instagram profile makes it seem like they’re having the time of their life could simultaneously be struggling to stay on top of things. “Everyone else is new too,” reminds Wenzke. “Everyone feels concerned being away from home or taking college-level classes. Some students may hide their worries better than others, but remember that all freshmen go through this transition period.”

5. DON’T: Be too hard on yourself. “All of your hard work in high school got you to where you are now,” Wenzke encourages. “You should be incredibly proud.” And you should! It’s okay to feel overwhelmed and proud and sad and excited all at the same time. Those emotions are all part of this huge transition.

What’s your best college transition tip? Let us know @BritandCo!

(Photos via Getty)