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3 Common Sources of Stress in College—And How to Cope

Thu, Sep 27, 2018 @ 10:00 AM

Pensive woman at the library surrounded by booksDon’t Let Stress in College Keep You From Having a Great First Year

For most students, the transition from high school to university life can be a significant adjustment and can come with stressors that they may not be used to coping with. College is often the first time students are living away from home and there are a host of responsibilities that come with living independently.

Academically, university courses are designed to challenge students. Add in the search to create social circles and it’s no wonder many freshmen report feeling stressed. Here are some of the most common sources of stress students face during their first year in college and what you can do to cope.

Academic Pressure
Most college courses differ dramatically from the classes students take in high school. Typically, lectures are only a couple of days per week so students may not get as much face time with professors as they did with their high school teachers. Additionally, assignments in college can be much more comprehensive and require more research and planning than some high school work that students are used to. In-depth tasks such as thesis papers and research projects are often assigned far in advanced and students need to learn how to independently manage these long-term responsibilities. If you are struggling in a course or find yourself overwhelmed by an upcoming assignment, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Most professors hold office hours, which can be a great opportunity to get one-on-one support. Additionally, many schools have peer-tutoring services or writing centers where students can receive academic guidance. Some college students may benefit from working with a private tutor who has experience in the subject they are studying.

Social Stress
It’s not uncommon for first-year college students to arrive on campus and not know many people – or anyone at all. Some teenagers may have a tendency to withdraw even more when they are feeling isolated, but this is not the best strategy to handle social stress. Instead, go out of your comfort zone and sign up for different clubs and activities on campus in order to meet other students with shared interests. Physical activities, such as joining an intramural league or taking an exercise class can be a great way to reap the mood-related benefits associated with being active in a social setting. Alternatively, a creative hobby such as an on-campus band or photography club can be a beneficial outlet for students working through stress or emotional issues. Eliminate any sense of expectation about what your social life “should” be like in college and instead give yourself time to make genuine connections.

Independence Overload
Residing in a dorm room can be pretty different from living with your family. Some teenagers may struggle with the day-to-day responsibilities that come with living independently, such as maintaining shared spaces, cooking, and sticking to a cleaning schedule. Most students will also live with roommates for the first time and need to adjust to this dynamic. It’s important for roommates to be considerate of one another and willing to compromise to make the shared living space as comfortable as possible for both parties. Communication is essential so create a dialogue with your roommate in order to learn more about his or her living preferences, what chores and responsibilities you will share, and how he or she feels about visitors. If you and your roommate are struggling to get along, have a discussion first to address the issues you are having. Remember your roommate is likely going through the same adjustment process you are, so give him or her the benefit of the doubt. If problems continue, you can always reach out to your resident assistant and discuss solutions and potential alternatives.

Starting college is a major transition and students should seek help when needed. If you are feeling overwhelmed, reach out to resident assistant or advisor to get a sense of the different resources available on campus. Most colleges have counselors, tutors, and workshops that can help students de-stress and get the most from their time on campus.

At IvyWise, we can also alleviate some of the stress current college students might be facing, including academic struggles or the consideration of a transfer. Contact us today for more information on IvyWise’s services for college students.


Written by IvyWise

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