Are you headed to college for the first time, second time, or going back to finish a degree after working for several years at a job? No matter what your particular situation is, today’s college environment can mean unexpected amounts of stress and anxiety. Unlike many other life circumstances, higher education has a way of creating a confluence, a veritable perfect storm of stress and worry for most students.
What’s the best way to prevent those factors from overwhelming your brain, emotions, and health in negative ways? There are two steps to the management of it all. One, you need to know why this time of life, under these special circumstances, is uniquely challenging even for the toughest types of people. Second, once you identify the sources of your stress and worries, it’s much easier to deal with them in constructive, realistic ways.
Here are seven points to ponder, explore, and mull over as you get ready to take on one of the most important of life’s challenges. But have no fear, because once you break the stressful sources down into their component parts, they’re relatively easy to banish.
Why College is a Special Case
It’s essential to come to terms with the cold, hard fact that higher education entails unique types of stress, all of which converge during your schooling. Being ready for the various categories of anxiety is actually an effective way to defuse it. Understand that financial concerns, new social situations, time management, the pressure to get good grades, worrying about a prospective career path, and other factors will appear all at once. Don’t let them overwhelm you. Be ready by knowing what each one is and how to deal with it.
Money is usually the first thing people become concerned about because they are forced to pay for schooling before classes even begin. Perhaps the smartest way to banish this mental oppressor is to obtain a student loan. Once you check out the right options for student loans, it’s possible to get all the funding necessary to cover expenses in full. Once all the bills are taken care of, you can focus on studying, learning, and enjoying the educational journey. Yes, there is more to getting a diploma than the money question, but once you clear this hurdle, all the rest will seem much more manageable.
For most students, even part-time ones, a traditional degree curriculum means a new way of life. Not only do you need to juggle a fresh set of daily challenges, but there are new friends, job searches, demands, schedules, and more. This is particularly true for first-time attendees, who are right out of high school and have never had to face so many different obligations at once.
Be careful of how you plan your day after classes begin. It’s common for new students to underestimate the amount of time it will take to prepare for classes. Getting a bachelor’s or graduate degree is far different than being in high school. Wait at least one week after courses start to make a detailed daily schedule, and then stick to it.
Once in school, expect your social life to become quite different from what it was before. Even though this might seem exciting and fun, the human mind often translates upheaval into anxiety, which is why so many first-year students have trouble sleeping and relaxing. Make time to decompress, meditate, exercise, and sleep.
From day one, you’ll be thinking about the kind of jobs that await you after graduation. During junior and senior years, this pressure can build up. Defuse it by engaging in career planning right from the start. Speak with guidance counselors and the placement office about which companies and positions will be a good match for your degree and major. Consider doing internships for corporations that interest you. Interning is an effective way to stay one step ahead of the career scramble.
Students worry about grades. There’s really no way around it. The only solution is to study about 10 percent more than you deem necessary for each course you’re enrolled in. Eventually, you’ll learn how to study very efficiently and all that nervousness about grades will decrease rapidly.