You’re experiencing your first taste of real freedom. You’re taking the classes you want to take, studying the subjects you’re interested in plus managing your schedule and your own money. You’ve been excited about this stage of your life forever, but there was one thing you might not have been prepared for: the stress.
Life suddenly gets a lot more complicated when you’re making decisions on your own and everything hinges on your choices. Part of getting an education is learning how to cope with your life stresses in college.
Getting the Work Done
If you haven't already, it's time to get in the habit of maintaining a planner, making a schedule, and accounting for your time. Time is your most important resource. You want to finish college and earn your degree so you can be prepared for the next stage in life. You've got to make school your top priority.
It’s fine if you have competing priorities. This is your life, and no matter what your school demands are, you have to live it so that you are happy. EnvisionExperience recommends determining which things are most important to you, specifically. Build your life around those things. If that’s school, then double down on it and prioritize accordingly.
It's okay to be a little selfish concerning school. By scheduling the time you need to attend class, complete assignments and study, you'll reduce your stress considerably by never feeling short on time.
Plan projects ahead of time. There's such a thing as good and bad procrastination. If you immediately familiarize yourself with an assignment and your approach to it, procrastinating can help you refine your thoughts as long as you give yourself enough time to complete the assignment.
If it's crunch time and you're looking at the assignment for the first time, you're doing it wrong. Schedule your meetings in advance, and thoroughly familiarize yourself with your degree plan. Find out which classes fill up quickly or are offered infrequently and prioritize taking them first.
Figuring out the biggest sources of stress will help you prioritize. Make a list of everything happening in your life, as well as everything in the foreseeable future. You can lead a more balanced and successful course of study if you understand what your stress levels will be.
Determining Your Course Load
Concerning your course load, you won't be able to eliminate stress, but you can manage it. It will take some experimentation to figure out how many classes a semester you should be taking. Some classes are more challenging than others and will require more time.
The demands of your personal life will also play a factor. Challenge yourself, but don't overwhelm yourself. CollegeFashion tells it like it is: start slow, take it one step at a time, and don’t bite off more than you can chew. Rushing into things will only punish you. You need to give yourself the space to explore your chosen discipline and to go beyond the curriculum if you really want to stand out to your professors.
Balancing Work and School
Juggling work and personal life is a challenge for anyone. As a student, that challenge is amplified. While you're in college, try to see it as your primary profession. Even if work is paying your bills, any job you concurrently hold is a side hustle. Take every opportunity to work and take internships in your field of study.
At all costs, do not allow a job unrelated to your field make you feel obligated to sacrifice the time you need to succeed in school to work. They may not have your best interests at heart.
College may be the first time some of you have to seriously budget. With rising fees, students who must work in order to afford tuition are common. Students who take out loans are graduating with debilitating debt. College is a great time to develop the lifelong discipline of frugality.
In addition to keeping things cheap, you’ll also want to generate additional streams of income, as suggested by TheLadders. Take on that extra part-time job. Take commissions for skills that you’ve developed. Tutor in areas you specialize in.
A humble lifestyle means less need to work and more time for study. Performing well in your first years may open the door to performance-based grants and scholarships that can assist you. Apply for every grant or scholarship you qualify for. You'd be surprised how much grant money goes unclaimed!
Navigating Family Life
We love our families, but family can also be a major source of stress. Maintaining your scholastic priorities while satisfying your familial obligations can be difficult, especially if you are married or have children.
It's important to set clear boundaries and expectations. Communicating the fact that you might not be as available in the near future because of a large project or approaching exams can save you the emotional turmoil of having to justify your absence in the moment.
Maintaining Your Friendships
College is a great time to meet new people and establish lifelong friendships. It's also an important time to weed out those relationships that might not be serving your long-term goals.
Forming a support network among like-minded people who share your interests and goals can make the difference between success and failure in college, as Phys.org points out. They can be a key in navigating the transition from university to professional life after graduation.
Don't neglect these associations. In specialized fields of study, the people you meet in college might have a recurring role in your professional life.
Some of the most important friendships you'll make in college are with mentors. A mentor will not only encourage and enlighten you, they can also save you a lot of time and wasted energy. Spending time following a fruitless lead can be incredibly stressful, especially when you have a deadline.
A good mentor can point you in the right direction. Finding mentors happens naturally when you're genuinely interested in the subject and participate consistently in class. When your personality clicks with an instructor you respect, it's a good place to invest your energy.
Taking Care of Yourself
One of the most important ways to manage your stress in college is to take care of your health. Sleep deprivation can add to your stress and make it harder to concentrate. The American Psychological Association argues that most students don’t realize how badly counterproductive sacrificing sleep can be, especially in the long run.
Sometimes sleep loss unavoidable, but if you're planning well, you can keep it to a minimum. Staying physically active can reduce the stress that interferes with sleep. Of all the things you might sacrifice in the name of your education, sleep should be the last.
Remember, college is an incredible challenge. You’ll be a rare case if you don’t make mistakes. If you’re expecting to get out of it unscathed, your expectation might be setting you up for disappointment. The way you bounce back from any missteps will be as important as making the right moves. Other people have been through it, and you can get through it too. You’ve got this!
Here at Student Coaching Services, we’ve helped numerous students find their footing and beat back their stress levels. Hire us on for our individualized coaching services and improve your grades today.