Overcoming Personal Challenges in College

If you are just now entering university, or if you’ve been attending college for a year or two, you know more than anyone how tough the transition can be. For the first time in your life, you’re living along or with people not part of your family. You often must start your social life over from scratch. This doesn’t even include the fact that you’ll be faced with challenging academic work that will have you staying up, at least occasionally, all night long.Let’s face it—college life is stressful, and many young adults experience during their college years depression and anxiety for the first time. Here are a few tips for dealing with college stress:

1.      Realize from the beginning that nothing is worth compromising your health over.

In college, you’ll be under pressure in many different ways. If you attend a competitive school, pressure to get the best grades possible is a constant source of stress. Remember that in the grand scheme of things, grades won’t matter. One B or C won’t ruin your future career. If you have to choose between a lower letter grade and quality sleep/your sanity, choose the latter.

2.      Keep in touch with your family. It’s more important than you think it is.

At first, you may be slightly irritated that your parents call you all the time, and you try your best to keep these conversations short. Be aware, however, that your parents are your greatest allies when it comes to dealing with stress in college. Even if you were somewhat distant with them in high school, or if you argued a lot, you’ll soon find that physical distance draws you closer, and as you grow older you become more understanding of each other. Call your parents periodically, especially when you’re frustrated. They’ll be there for you.

3.      Stick to a routine that includes regular sleep hours, a healthy diet, and physical activity.

In college, it’s always difficult to stick to any sort of routine. College life is simply often not really all that conducive to stable existence, so you’ll have to try doubly hard to maintain a regular schedule. Be sure that you plan each of your days such that you have time to sleep at least seven hours when possible. Skip the greasy or fatty options at the cafeteria, or try cooking your own meals. Join an intramural sports team, or at least go for a jog every other day. Maintaining your health in college is really the key to making you feel your best and perform your best, too.

4.      Don’t feel pressured to join any social group.

There are as many, if not more, social pressures in college as there are in high school. Peer pressure is a lot more rampant, given the freedom from supervision that you have. There will still be social cliques, and they can be even more vicious and exclusive than when you were younger. Just remember that years from now, none of the social pressures will matter. Almost everyone I know keeps in touch with only their best friends from college. Instead of focusing on becoming part of some popular social group, focus on developing solid, lifelong friendships.

The most important thing to remember as you continue your journey through college is that these will be some of the best, most fun years of your life. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Laugh, work hard, and enjoy your free time. Good luck!

About the Author: Angelita Williams offers life long learning tips in her articles on college education, lifestyle, and wellness management.

8 thoughts on “Overcoming Personal Challenges in College

  1. Wonderful advice, thank you, Angelita. And thank you, TT, for seeing its value, and providing the platform to broadcast same. I’m an eldest, college was hard for me. I could have used such advice. Well done.

  2. Great advice. And interesting that this blog post topic is in a blogging tips blog. So …..blogging could be a great stress releaser for some students..as long as they kept their posts short. Short to reduce any expectations of writing fantastically but still in an accessible, readable style.

    I only worked part-time for first 2 years of university when I lived at home. Then summer was full-time work. My university years included some grants when they were still available for students from low-income families. However I lived very economically and was stunned to hear so many students going on vacations in Europe or down in the Carribbean. I just couldn’t relate to these students at all.

    While true one should not feel pressure to social groups, college/university away from home can be an isolating experience. So wise selection of a few friends here and there adds relief to ongoing slog of study and research.

    As for diet, I was truly bewildered by my classmates and others, eating alot of macaroni and cheese, junk food. I just couldn’t afford the stuff: my mother gave, as a gift of a caring parent, supplied me with pre-cut(by her) frozen meat and some veggies at beginning of each school year. I simply applied my mother’s cooking techniques of stir fries, rice, etc…even though I am born in Canada. Cooking was therapeutic for me during university since it was non-intellectual and relatively fast/hassle-free activity. (Chinese style home cooking is not complicated and many dishes relatively fast.) So I never had the weight problems that some students may have. (Of course walking to university or taking transit helped also without me realizing this. Today I’m amazed by so many students driving a car. How can they afford this??)

    So trying to be reasonably healthy and fit does help alot during those years of stress and worry.

    But then once studying is over, is the hardest part..finding work and the lifelong journey of applying one’s education to real life problems and challenges ahead.

    I would encourage students that this the time where you have institutional services that you’ve paid for on site: counselling, physical fitness facilities, extra curricular groups/activities to spark some lifelong interests. Use them now. Later….it may cost you (more) money. Make the very best of your college/university years.

  3. This is all good advice for students going straight from home to college. I had a different experience, going from the military into college. After four years in the USMC, I quickly learned that unless I wanted a career as a security guard for the rest of my life, I’d better use that GI bill.

    Compromising my health wasn’t an issue. I was used to stress, as you can imagine, and the stress of adapting to college life was nothing. I was used to keeping in touch with my family. I had no choice about sticking to a routine – I worked full time the entire way through college, so without a routine, I’d never have made it. Most of the time, I worked swing or graveyard shifts as a security guard, giving me plenty of time to do my homework between patrols. Security is a perfect job for students most of the time – depending on the site you’re working. A lot of security jobs involve sitting at a front desk after hours and simply watching the area. You can get most of your homework done and still watch the door. My fellow guards were either students, or retired people. As for social groups and pressure to join them – not a factor. I didn’t have time for that. I was either in class, at the gym, at work, or sleeping. Six years later, I had my degree. Would have been earlier, but I changed majors from microbiology to technical communication, using every last cent of my GI bill and taking plenty of student loans to boot. It was expensive and difficult, but worth the money and the effort. Plus it was fun.

    1. I think Angelita’s advice is good advice or I wouldn’t have published her article so I’m glad you concur.

      Your college days sound interesting indeed. Mine weren’t the usual either. I worked part-time while I went to college and university and so did my partner. As older kids in our large families, who had shouldered many responsibilities form an early age, we found most college kids our own age to be “air-headed”. We were there to get the best education we could and stayed far away from the over-the-top social scene goings on. That’s not to say we didn’t have fun. It is to say that we did focus our attention on what Angelita outlined ie. maintaining a healthy lifestyle. What we suffered most from was lack of sleep.

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