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When it came to thinking about college in high school, I was definitely the kid that was freaking out constantly. While my friends were laminating on the independence that they'd have or express how they were excited to go to all of the parties, my mind was swarmed by a whirlpool of vicious thoughts. I was worried, scared, and unsure. I could never understand how my friends were so excited when there have been the all too common stories of college students practically losing their minds. All of the hell and torment that I possibly had to deal with completely negated the fact that college life would be fun. Once graduation came and went, I was already feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders. When it came time for me to settle into my dorm, I was panicking. I was certain that I wasn't even going to make it past the first semester with my sanity in check.
And I'm sure that everyone must have experienced the same nagging feelings that I did when transitioning from a high school senior into a college freshman. After all, it's a whole new frontier that we're dealing with. There are no retries or second opportunities if you screw up. There's no net of security to cushion us when our grades aren't where they should be. A lot of pressure is placed on us to excel academically so that we can become skilled and productive members of society. With independence comes a slew of responsibilities, and sometimes, a lot of people can find it hard to juggle everything on the way to adulthood.
As college students, it's easy for us to admit that tackling a multitude of responsibilities can be frustrating. In fact, a study from the National College Health Assessment found that 46.3 percent of undergraduate students felt some kind of burden in regard to their academic expectations. Many students are oftentimes stressed out or simply confused by what they need to do in college. With the plethora of exams, projects, and other assignments mounting on top of everyone, it can be easy for us to get lost in the shuffle amidst the seemingly daunting tasks given to us. However, there are ways in which students can push through the pressure and still walk out of our four years with our grades—and heads—still intact.
1.) Time Management
It’s suffice to say that time management is a key component of being successful in college. Scheduling tasks, such as completing homework assignments and studying, can help organize a person’s time more efficiently. For me, I have a calendar set up at my desk where I can jot down any upcoming assignments and exams for all of my classes. On top of my shelf is my journal where I maintain a daily plan for what needs to be done. In addition, I try to keep track of the time while I am completing my assignments, making sure that I’m not rushing to the point where my work is sloppy. At the same time, I have to be conscious of how long it takes me to get my homework done. After all, I don’t want to be spending, let’s say, five hours on my Elementary Functions assignment. I’ve got other things to do!
In addition to my calendar and daily planner, I also set up daily reminders for myself on my phone so that I can be alerted on what I need to do. Apps such as Google Calendar and (the one that I personally use) Just Reminder can help to make sure that a person is on task with what needs to be done. Quizlet even has a function where you can input when your next quiz or exam is and it will give you reminders of the vocab sets that you need to practice on. Sometimes, I can find myself to be a bit frazzled after a compact week. As a result, I can be forgetful of other things that need to be done. Investing in some reminder apps is good if you're like me and might let a few things slip by when you're focused on other things.
Having a clear, concise, and organized way of breaking down what you need to do on a daily basis will add a sense of relief. You won't feel so overwhelmed. Also, it's good to have small breaks in between, so walk out your legs or maybe stretch a little for a few minutes before transitioning on to the next task.
Speaking of breaks...
2.) Learn to RELAX.
Taking your physical and mental well-being into consideration is an absolute must. Being able to sort out assignments and manage your time wisely is great, but balance is important. Just like how we need to balance our schoolwork, we should be able to balance out our stress levels and relax. Spending time on the weekends walking, doing yoga, reading, or partaking in any kind of activity that you find relaxing can help ease the mind. For example, I particularly enjoy doing some yoga on the weekend. I find it to be calming and helpful in stabilizing my mind after it’s been a cluttered mess from a hectic week.
Don’t want to be all alone, however? Then have friends around so that everyone can de-stress together. My friends and I have decided to do a monthly spa ritual where we could all unwind together and have fun. Though, I have a feeling we may need to amp it up once the dreaded finals show up to threaten us all. Finding some “me” time can definitely help keep a leveled head—and a leveled head is definitely important to succeeding in college.
3.) Get help.
Seems logical enough, but you'd be surprised by how many people hold off getting some help before it's too late. Confused about how to solve a particular calculus problem? Contact a tutor. Not confident about the organization of your essay? Then either contact your English professor directly or go to the writing center if your college has one.
Of course, you also want to try and ask any questions that you may have in class as well. It may be daunting to "interrupt" your professor during a lecture, but hey, they're here to help you learn and make sure that you truly understand the topic that they're going over. If you don't want to ask them during class, though, then be sure to jot down your question(s) in your notebook and speak to them once class ends.
Don't be the kind of student that waits until an important exam or deadline comes up to seek assistance. As a matter of fact, don't wait until the last minute for anything. The minute you're confused, stuck, or unsure, get someone to help you.
4.) Surround yourself with motivated individuals.
Friends are great. Friends are wonderful. However, friends that constantly procrastinate, barely study, or only care for parties aren't really good for you.
It's important that you surround yourself with people that are ambitious and motivated; individuals who buckle down and get work done. That way, you can all link up together, study, help each other and all that good stuff. In fact, I find that having those kinds of people around actually motivates me. It makes me aspire to do good and stay on top of my tasks. That's the kind of vibe I want out of those I associate myself with.
Besides, it is true that we are all a product of our environment. When you're in an environment that allows you to concentrate and work hard, then you'll be able to become more productive. Of course, having uptight and serious people around you isn't ideal, but it is for the best that you're surrounded by people that don't mix business with pleasure. Keep them separate and get what is truly important out of the way first.
5.) Baby Steps
Being able to divide your workload can be of great use and help to alleviate some of the burden. Have an essay that's due next week? Well, start jotting down ideas and conceptualize an outline. Then, start working on the paragraphs each day until you feel satisfied with the work and get that paper down.
Have a calculus assignment that's due in three days? Work on a certain set amount of questions each day so that you're not crammed with a lot of things to do at once.
By just simply doing things in baby steps, you won't be overwhelmed or stressed out beyond relief. You'll be able to work more efficiently. Also, you won't have to stay up at 2 AM on a Wednesday morning trying to get everything done.
The Point of It All
At first, college can seem like a hell hole of constant work and stress. However, being able to balance things and staying organized can go a long way. Being able to sit back and relax once everything is done is also good for helping to maintain a level head.
These are things that I personally do so that everything can go smoothly for me. Of course, as the semesters go by, the coursework can get tougher. Some people might even take up jobs or internships, juggling between school and work. It can be tough, but with the advice that I've given, I'm sure that you too can take the pressure off of you and find a sense of control in an otherwise hectic time in our lives.