What to do if you are stressed at college

Juggling coursework, social activities and possibly a job to help pay the bills can be incredibly stressful for students, particularly during the first year when everything is still new. College should be enjoyed, and many people do have fun as well as work hard, but there are some who struggle with coursework and other aspects of college. If not dealt with, this can turn into stress and possibly may result in you dropping out. Here are some tips on how to deal with college life and stress. 

Be organised

The transition from school to college can be a difficult one. Suddenly, you are expected to study on your own, organising your own notes and applying what you learn to what you already know. Be as organised as you can. Take notes and then write them up or file them away. If you have a list of books to read before term/the semester starts, then read them while you have time. It will prepare you for coursework and will give you an idea of what subjects you struggle with. 

Start assignments early

It may initially seem as though you have fewer assignments than at school. However, the chances are the assignments are much more in-depth and require a great deal of input. As soon as you are given the assignment, start work on it. That way, if you struggle, you have longer to work it through, or you can ask for help. There is nothing more stressful than leaving work until the day before it is due and then panicking because you can’t finish in time. 

Limit alcohol

Drinking will almost certainly become part of your college days. The freedom to do as you please could easily go to your head and you may be tempted to drink more than you should – or even experiment with drugs. If you must, then ensure that it is an occasional practice. Alcohol and drugs can give you a brief high, followed by feelings of depression. If you are feeling stressed anyway, you are only going to end up feeling worse. 

Be sensible about your social life

The opportunity to meet a wide circle of people can be so tempting that, before you know it, you are out virtually every day of the week. A social life is an important part of college. However, don’t overlook your work for the sake of socialising. You should be able to balance the two without sacrificing the quality of your work, but if you are struggling, then cut back. You will have plenty of time to socialise after your assignments and exams. 

Work in the holidays rather than during term-time

For some students, work is a necessary part of studying, simply because there are bills to be paid. If you have to work, then try and find a job that you can do during the holidays, full-time if necessary. If working during term-time is an absolute must, then ensure that time is taken away from your social life rather than your study. And it would be ideal if you can find a job that is linked with your study – you may even end up with a full-time job once you have graduated. 

Seek help from professors/tutors

Don’t sit in silence if you are struggling. Talk to your professors and tutors. They are likely to be more than willing to help you – and have probably helped many students with the same problems – but if you don’t talk to them, then they won’t know that you are having problems. They should be able to point you in the right direction, or even set your mind at rest over whatever is bothering you. 

Talk to other students

You should also share any concerns you have with other students. The things that are stressing you are likely to be experienced by others too and you will find that you will feel a great deal better if you talk things through. You may be able to think up ways of studying together – often two heads or more are better than one. 

Seek medical help

If you have tried these suggestions and are still struggling, to the point that you aren’t enjoying college and aren’t managing to keep up with the work, then it may be worth seeking help from a doctor or a counsellor on campus. The combination of being away from home, finding coursework more difficult than you expected and the general pressures of being a student may have become too much for you and you should seek help rather than trying to deal with the stress on your own. 

Provided you are aware of potential problems when you begin college, you should have a relatively stress-free time. However, if stress does raise its ugly head, then try and deal with it before it becomes a real issue.