After all your work and preparation, the day has finally arrived. You’re a freshman in college about to experience all of the academic and social opportunities you’ve been dreaming about.

However, every college comes with its own set of challenges and responsibilities that you may not have considered. For some students, this will be your first time away from home without your parents by your side to help you make decisions and deal with adversity.

Colleges and universities are prepared to assist as you navigate the occasional stumbling blocks, especially during your first year. You don’t have to solve problems alone. Here’s a guide of the people you can rely on for support on campus.

Academic Adviser 

This person will help you choose classes and plan your schedule and discuss any questions or concerns you have about your workload or which professors you should take. You’ll often start out with one adviser but once you declare a major, you may switch to an adviser specific to your field to ensure you fulfill all necessary academic requirements over the course of your education. After you’ve decided on a major, your department chairperson is another resource for insight and advice on classes and coursework.

Don’t worry if you and your initial adviser don’t hit it off. You can schedule an appointment with the Dean of Advising, someone who can not only change your adviser, but can also share information about the credits system and academic requirements for each department.


If you’re a student athlete, developing a strong relationship with your coach is important. If you find yourself struggling academically or socially, your coach can be the person to listen and then point you in the right direction. Your coach has the advantage of getting to know you in a non-academic setting while you’re playing the sport you love. You might feel more comfortable confiding in your coach for advice or help when you don’t know where else to turn.

Resident Adviser

Having issues with your roommate? Is the dorm bathroom too messy? Resident Advisers (RAs) are there to help because they were once freshmen themselves, and they can relate to how you feel. RAs are older students who, for a stipend or reduced tuition, living or meal plan costs, opt to live in dorms to make students feel welcome, teach them about campus life and maintain a safe, comfortable and clean living environment. A cross between a peer and a counselor, your RA is trained to troubleshoot problems with you, intervene where necessary and help you get additional support.


Colleges and universities take students’ mental well-being very seriously. If you’re feeling particularly stressed, can’t sleep or eat or are having trouble concentrating, make an appointment with a counselor — it’s always confidential. Colleges and universities often provide free counseling services, at least on a short-term basis. If your situation requires longer-term services or more involved treatment, a school counselor can make referrals to outside providers in the area.

Healthcare Professional

It’s never fun getting sick away from home, but it happens to almost everyone. Your school is staffed with doctors and nurses who will take care of you when you’re not feeling well, provide over-the-counter medication, write prescriptions, treat injuries and, if needed, send you to the hospital or a nearby health provider for additional treatment.

Career Counselor

If you’re not sure your major matches your long-term goals or you’re hoping to land that perfect summer internship, a visit to the Career Center would be beneficial. Career counselors can help you determine career goals and provide feedback on résumés and cover letters. Most schools have databases of internships and jobs, an alumni network and well-trained staff to guide you through the application process.

Upperclassmen Friends

If you want to know which dining hall has the best food or who’s the best American History professor, then make friends with students who have been there longer than you. Join a club or show up for a few meetings and get to know some of the other students. No one knows the inside scoop on campus better than your senior classmates.

Remember that recognizing when you need help and knowing how to ask for it is part of your educational experience at college. All schools provide support on campus so you can get the resources you need to succeed; all you have to do is take advantage of them!