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The Four Stages of Culture Shock

List the four stages of culture shock and explain how they relate to all students.

>The Four Stages of Culture Shock

Stage 1 – Excitement
At first, the typical high school student will likely feel a sense of exhilaration and excitement in his new college environment. The sheer size of the college campus and the scope of its influence both on and off campus is indeed impressive to a newly minted freshman. Tutors observing students in this stage should absolutely share their enthusiasm, but also encourage them to attend any orientation sessions available to them on campus and suggest that the student visit their local student life office to explore the many support services available.

Stage 2 – Difficulty
In this stage, excitement soon turns to anxiety, as the expectations of the entering freshman collide with the realities of college life. Students, unaware of the practices, policies and procedures inherent in their new environment, may become agitated and even hostile, when, for instance, a professor has not reminded them that a paper is due or they are not immediately held accountable for missed classes, but later, suffer the consequences of their actions.

Stage 3 – Recovery
In time, students will become more familiar with their surroundings and have a better understanding of the expectations of their professors. This familiarity and the increased feeling of support both academically and through newly formed friendships will create a feeling of belonging for the new student. No longer feeling like a stranger in a strange land, the new student begins to recover from his initial shock. Tutors observing students in this stage will notice a reduction in the student’s anxiety levels and a renewed sense of purpose.

Stage 4 – Stability
During the final stage of adaptation, the student’s situation has stabilized to the extent that his once new surroundings have become comfortably commonplace and closely tied into his sense of identity as a college student. Students in this stage are often ready to branch out and accept new challenges, perhaps opting to enroll in a course overseas or becoming a mentor to newly arriving students. During this stage, tutors can support their student’s enthusiasm for taking on new challenges and encourage them to maintain necessary support systems which will continue to enhance their school experience and provide a strong foundation for the future.

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