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Student Blog: Upperclassman Tips on Managing the Inevitable Stress of College Life

College is overwhelming, but here are five tips to help you limit academic stress and enjoy your college experience.

Student Blog: Upperclassman Tips on Managing the Inevitable Stress of College Life As the Fall semester draws to a close, it is common for us, as college students, to feel overwhelmed when classes conclude and final papers and exams arise. For some of you, the semester has already ended, but you may want to learn how to limit your stress for next semester. College life has the potential to be stressful in a variety of ways from academic to social to personal to financial. While there are many aspects out of our control, my tips will mainly focus on how to handle academic stress. No matter which category you may fall into, some tips and habits I have found helpful and continue to remind myself to follow are listed below.

  1. Outline Everything - This first tip is underrated yet essential for surviving college life. With several classes that meet at different times in conjunction with various social and extracurricular events, it is hard to juggle everything. However, unlike in high school, in college, you are given a syllabus that outlines all of the major and minor assignments for each course, enabling you to plan your calendar well in advance. Upon entering college, I quickly learned how to outline and plan my days, weeks, and months. Whether you use a paper calendar or one on your phone or computer, the best way to start every semester is to write down what assignments are due and when for all of your courses. Similarly, you can begin every week by noting what academic assignments you have to get done in addition to your extracurricular activities. This will help you to visualize your events for the week and semester, enabling you to create a plan to complete all of your tasks on time and enjoy your social and extracurricular activities.
  1. Tackle Academic Items Early - After outlining what you have to get done, another great habit is to see what tasks you can get done early. For instance, if you have a major paper due in two weeks but know that the week the paper is due is going to be filled with several other assignments and social events, work through the paper a week early. This will allow you to edit and finalize the paper while still having time to successfully complete work for other classes and participate in additional activities. Besides planning major assignments or events in advance, another way to front-load your work is to get as much done during unique blocks of time. Instead of walking to class listening to music, try listening to an audiobook or filmed lecture or if you take the bus, try reading a book or completing assigned readings while riding. Through planning out tasks and assignments of all sizes while completing as much as possible during small blocks of time, you will be extremely productive, enabling you to have time to enjoy other activities and events.
  1. It's Important to Say "No" - One of the great things about college is it is a unique time in which we can explore a wide array of classes, activities, and events, taking part in a larger community. Especially upon entering college as a freshman or a new semester as an upperclassman, it is easy to sign up for too many classes, activities, and events. Thus, it can be important for your academic success and mental health to say "no" to the unnecessary classes with a workload that might stress you out or the extra club meetings that you do not really have time to squeeze into your schedule. When it comes down to what you have to do each semester, carefully plan your classes and pick events, clubs, and organizations that matter the most to you.
  1. Take time for Self-Care - As events and assignments pile up towards midterm season or finals season, it is imperative to take time for yourself. Basic self-care can take the form of sleeping for eight to ten hours, taking fifteen minutes to stretch and breathe, meditating, exercising, eating full meals at regular times, and making the time to relax by watching a movie or tv show or reading a book. While academic and social experiences are important, it's difficult to enjoy them if your physical and mental energy are depleted.

  1. Ask for Help - Although many students may appear to have everything organized, it is critical to realize that everyone struggles with something every semester whether it is academic, social, mental, or physical. In thinking that others are handling everything well and therefore you should too, you run the dangerous risk of unnecessarily overwhelming yourself. Therefore, the best tip is to ask for help. Take the time to communicate with your advisors, professors, friends, and family. It is perfectly normal to ask for tips on how to nail an audition or interview, visit a professor's office hours to ask questions about a paper or project, or reach out to your advisor to plan your classes and major. When in doubt, just remember that your friends, family, advisors, and professors are there to help you and want to see you succeed.

Although all of the aforementioned tips are easier said than done, they will help you use your time efficiently which in turn, will help you manage your energy. Implementing one or more of these tips can help minimize your stress and enable you to achieve your goals and get the most out of your college experience.


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