Mon. Apr 15th, 2024
Image of multiethnic group of happy young students walking outdoors. Looking aside.

Between the piles of coursework, new social scene, money struggles, and more, college can feel like hurdle after hurdle gets thrown your way. The stats back it up too – only about 9% of students report having less than average stress or no stress. The other 91% of admit to feeling it in different measures, from above average to tremendous.

But here’s the good news: by learning strategies to tackle common challenges, you can crush any obstacle that comes your way in college. This blog will take you through some of those key hurdles and how to overcome them.

  • Academic overload

Mountain of coursework, looming exams, and pressing deadlines. It’s easy to freeze up when academic demands feel unmanageable. But that shouldn’t be the case.

  • Start by prioritizing your tasks. What absolutely must get done today? This week? 
  • Break big projects down into smaller chunks that feel less intimidating. 
  • Create a realistic schedule that doesn’t leave you burned out. Block off time for studying each day and permit yourself to take breaks.
  • Stay organized by using a planner or calendar to map out assignments and study sessions. Be sure to schedule downtime too – you’ll think more clearly when you’re well rested. 
  • If you’re struggling to stay on track, try time management techniques like the Pomodoro Method to help you focus in short bursts. 

Most importantly, don’t hesitate to seek help early on. Meet with your professor or TA to clarify anything you’re unsure about. You can also consider finding a study buddy or forming a study group.

  • Procrastination

Procrastination can significantly affect your stay in college, but it’s not unbeatable.

First, break large, intimidating projects down into smaller, more manageable steps. Writing a 10-page paper seems daunting? Focus on getting your thesis and outline done first. Completing a few small tasks will build momentum.

To stay motivated, build in rewards for achieving certain milestones. Finish two textbook chapters? Treat yourself to a tasty snack or an episode of your favorite show. Having something to look forward to makes slogging through work more enjoyable.

Also, eliminate distractions in your study environment. Put your phone away, turn off notifications, and close distracting tabs. If needed, head to a new spot like the library where you can focus.

With these tactics, you can overcome procrastination. 

  • Imposter syndrome

Feeling like a fraud and waiting to be “found out” is a common experience in college, known as imposter syndrome. Research indicates that 56% to 82% of students suffer from this. But just because you doubt yourself sometimes doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to be there.

  • Combat negative self-talk by intentionally focusing on your strengths and accomplishments so far. 
  • Actively celebrate your successes, no matter how small. 
  • Find peers who also struggle with imposter syndrome and talk through your self-doubts. Bonding over your experiences can help. 
  • Seek out mentors like professors or advisors who believe in you. Ask them how they’ve coped with feeling like an imposter. Their wisdom and reassurance can quiet your inner critic.

By being your own cheerleader and surrounding yourself with encouragers, you can overcome imposter syndrome. 

  • Drug abuse

Drug abuse in colleges is a widespread issue.

As per Statista data, by the fall of 2022, about 70% of college students had taken an alcoholic beverage. Another about 30% had taken tobacco or a nicotine product, while 38% had taken cannabis.

If you’re caught up in drug abuse, it’s essential to seek help before it turns to addiction and your academic and emotional health suffers. 

Start by recognizing the red flags of drug and alcohol abuse. Look out for declining grades, strained relationships, lack of interest in activities you once enjoyed, and legal or health consequences. 

When you feel the urge to use, try healthier coping strategies first. Exercise releases feel-good endorphins. Relaxation techniques like deep breathing quiet anxiety. Opening up to a trusted friend or counselor can relieve difficult emotions.

If you suspect you have a dependency, don’t let shame stop you from seeking help. Resources such as this one at https://www.jacksonhouserehab.com/blog/posts/2023/september/staying-sober-on-campus/ or others you prefer can help guide your recovery. Lean in and take charge of your life.

  • Financial stress

Money worries are some of the top stresses facing students. But with planning and resourcefulness, you can take control of your finances.

Start by creating a realistic budget based on your income sources and necessary expenses. Look for ways to trim discretionary costs like eating out. 

Next, maximize financial aid opportunities. Research scholarships you qualify for and apply early. Fill out the FAFSA annually to access federal and campus aid. If you need loans, understand the terms and only borrow what you require.

Also, seek out a part-time job or work-study position that fits your schedule. Tutoring, retail, food service and campus jobs offer flexible ways to earn. Or find paid internships related to your major that provide experience too.

If money struggles arise, use campus resources. Meet with a financial aid counselor to problem-solve. Look into emergency aid grants if a financial crisis hits. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

  • Social anxiety

It’s normal to feel shy or self-conscious in social settings, especially when adjusting to college life. But don’t let social anxiety hold you back from making connections. There are many effective ways to push past your comfort zone.

  • Join clubs or organizations that align with your interests – it’s easier to connect over shared passions. 
  • Attend social events even if you feel nervous. Start small by going with a friend, then build up to mingling on your own.
  • Practice small talk skills and conversation starters to ease social interactions. 
  • Gradually expose yourself to feared situations to build confidence. Start with lower-stakes interactions like group projects or study sessions. As you gain experience and see anxiety lessen over time, you can tackle more intimidating settings.

With patience and courage, you can gradually expand your social comfort zone – and reap the rewards of meaningful connections. 

  • Homesickness and loneliness

Leaving your childhood home and friends for a new environment can be an emotional transition. You’re not alone in this. Research indicates that about 30% of continuing students and roughly 70% of freshmen feel the same way.

With that in mind, know that there are meaningful ways to feel connected in your new community.

  • Leverage technology to stay in touch with loved ones back home through video calls, texts, social media, and more. 
  • Develop connections with roommates or classmates by studying together, grabbing a meal, exercising, or hanging out. Reach out and make plans so you don’t isolate yourself. 

Homesickness will lessen with time as you settle into college life. 

  • Relationship issues

Relationship challenges are common in college, whether with romantic partners, roommates, or friends. There are effective ways to cultivate healthy bonds during this transition.

  • Have vulnerable discussions to air any tensions and find solutions. Compromise where needed so everyone’s needs are met.
  • Set reasonable boundaries and expectations in your relationships. Discuss shared agreements for things like cleanliness, visitors, and noise levels if rooming together. 
  • When conflicts inevitably arise, stay calm and actively listen to the other perspective. Find common ground and validate each other’s feelings.
  • If a relationship becomes unhealthy, consider involving a third party. Counselors, and in some cases, friends, can mediate tensions or help unpack your emotions. 

With mutual understanding and effort, you can cultivate meaningful, fulfilling relationships. 

  • Mental health concerns

It’s common to face mental health challenges like anxiety, depression or overwhelming stress. Matter of fact, this report shows that over 60% of college students met the criteria for one or more mental health problems during the 2020–2021 school year.

In that case, it’s a great idea to prioritize self-care and seek help if you feel overwhelmed.

Carve out time each day for activities that nourish you mentally and physically. Make social connections, get outdoors, move your body, eat nutritious meals, and get adequate sleep. Setting healthy daily habits provides a solid foundation.

If you notice persistent symptoms interfering with academics or daily life, seek professional help right away. Campus counseling services offer free, confidential support.

Build a network of social support too. Sharing your experiences with trusted friends and family helps alleviate distress. Joining a campus mental health club can also connect you with others facing similar struggles. 

Make time for relaxation practices like deep breathing, meditation, yoga or journaling. Soothing your nervous system through healthy outlets bolsters resilience. 

  • Maintaining healthy habits

Nurturing your physical and mental wellbeing can ultimately support your success and happiness.

  • Schedule fitness into your daily planner just like classes.
  • Stock your dorm or apartment with nutritious grab-and-go snacks like fruit, nuts and yogurt. Stay hydrated and limit sugary caffeinated drinks that can deplete you.
  • Maintain a consistent bedtime/wake time and power down screens before bed. If you have a roommate, discuss ways to keep the space conducive to quality rest. 
  • Avoid unhealthy coping habits like excessive screen time or junk food. Instead, nurture yourself through healthier outlets when stressed.

With some planning, you can absolutely thrive both physically and mentally during your college years through balanced self-care.

In closing

The challenges you face in college may look different based on your situation. That said, be kind to yourself through it all. Reach out to those who can provide support, whether it’s friends who get it, counselors who can help, or that professor who believes in you. 

You don’t need to work this out alone. Keep prioritizing self-care and you’ll gain resilience. Years from now, you’ll look back with pride at all you learned and overcame.

By admin

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