How to Handle Stress in College Students’ Life

Posted on:
Student Lifehacks
a college student handling stress

These days college is not associated with the same “wild” experience as it used to be with parties all night long and a carefree lifestyle. Due to higher competition for jobs, a higher rate of unemployment, pressing costs of getting a university degree, and new social media standards of what successful students should be like, it becomes more and more difficult for college students to pursue their studies today and causes serious effects of stress.

In the news reports, we stumble quite often upon the necessity of psychological help on campus and a requirement for a help hotline to assist students during their hard times. Therefore, stress has become one of the biggest problems during university times and it is crucial for students to master how to manage stress in college! 

College Students Stress Statistics

Let’s have a look at some facts about stress in college students’ lives:

  • One of the leading sources of stress among college students is whether they can afford running educational costs. Textbooks are one of the major expenditures at college. In 2013 the textbooks cost each student around $1190!
  • Student surveys show the following college stress statistics: 52% of college freshmen think they are in the top 10% of mentally stable people in their class. Around 25 years ago, this proportion was closer to 70%. Therefore, we can see that stress levels in college students’ lives have risen unprecedentedly high!

Expensive Tuition Costs

Probably the most important thing that causes real stress in college for students is the price of tuition fees. Every year it is rising higher and higher! University statistics show that their inflation is disproportionate to the consumer price index and increases by around 8% every year. In order to afford their studies, US college students have to take out bank loans, and the medium student loan debt at graduation averages out to $30,000. Although students will start paying out these loans only upon reaching a certain salary threshold, the anticipation of these enormous payments is what places huge stress on students’ shoulders.

Running Educational Costs

running educational costs cause stress in college students
Designed by monthirayo / Freepik

Some other costs besides tuition fees that can place a burden on students are associated with food, textbooks, technology, and various license payments, boarding.

  • Food: it constitutes an essential expenditure in your budget. You cannot avoid it! Taking into account that you need to be careful with money but at the same time stay healthy and eat well, it can be tricky! Moreover, recent reports about the spreading of GMOs in industrial agriculture and their serious negative impact on our health add to students’ anxiety when they are trying to survive on a budget! Our advice to you: frequent a local fresh food market to buy some bio veggies and fruits at a fraction of the cost in comparison to the bio produce in the supermarket.
  • Textbooks: it is painfully expensive to buy textbooks nowadays! Depending on your course of studies, you might need to spend between $500 and $3,000 per year! One of the solutions is to do some research among former students in the same university who have purchased these books already and who might be willing to sell them at a discount price. Also, you can consider buying used textbooks and save 20% to 50% off the original price! Here we’ve collected some tips on how to get your textbooks cheap or for free—hope it helps to make your life a bit less stressful.
  • Tech and Licences: Depending on your course of studies, you might need to purchase specific software like AutoCAD, Revit, etc. These are very expensive programs, and normally they require renewal every year. The good thing is that quite often, there is a student version available for this kind of software which means you can purchase it for the duration of your studies at a significant discount. You should definitely benefit from such an offer!
  • Room Boarding: After tuition fees, this is the second biggest worry for a student since it causes a serious amount of effort to find a decent room at an affordable price. For freshmen, it is particularly important because it is in residence halls that they tend to make first college friends! Our advice is to start early: once you have received a confirmation letter from your college with an offer, go quickly to their website and browse all the dorm options available there. The earlier you start, the more possibilities you can choose from! We advise you to search the dorm closer to the university building where you will have your classes so that you can save money on traveling and have more time for waking up in the morning!

To relieve the stress about all the running costs during the semester, it might be worth taking on a part-time job. It might be challenging at the beginning to balance your study and work, but it’s manageable for sure! In such a way, you will feel calm about paying your rent or getting a pint of beer in the local pub! This is your stress management technique to earn money and refresh your head from all those never-ending exams, presentations, and homework.

The Role of Social Media

social media also adds towards stress experienced by college students
Designed by Freepik

Today it is difficult to imagine our life without social media. InstagramTwitter, and Facebook… all transmit messages and images that form our idea about what we should be aiming for and how we should look like. Very often, all these ideas are in conflict in relation to what we really want to do: as a result, we suffer from stress, low self-esteem, and anxiety!

What is important to realize for every student out there is that these beautiful images are just a picture, and they have nothing to do with the real life of even the person who posted them! So do not try to hide behind a perfect façade, be yourself, make your own mistakes—fall down—brush yourself off, and try again! This will help you discover the true yourself and let you live in harmony ever after. Moreover, over time it will serve you as the basis for your college stress relief knowledge!

Communication with Your Professors

proper communication with your professor helps to minimise the stress
Designed by Freepik

Another important point concerning how to deal with stress at college is effective communication with your professors, even if you have no time to complete your latest homework or prepare for the presentation. Social skills are vital and, in some life situations, crucial to your future. For example: what you say to your professors may significantly affect your progress with your courses and your grades. Make sure you choose the words carefully.

I didn’t know… the assignment was due today/I had to read it by today/how to complete the task/we learned it last week because I was ill/… 

It’s rarely a good idea to openly admit at school that you don’t know something. And don’t be surprised, but knowing about the whole syllabus, each homework piece and the deadline is on you. And if you have any trouble with your homework, try spending more time on it, consult your friends or classmates, or go to your professor during their office hours. If you choose the second option, start with an explanation of your approach, not just demand a solution. Keep in mind that it’s also you who is supposed to be following the materials presented during the classes you skip. And saying you simply “didn’t know” is not enough of an excuse, sorry. As you know, “Ignorance of the law excuses not.”

I didn’t do the homework/take the test/…, can I do it later?

Having put the question like that simply shows you didn’t care enough to inquire about it beforehand. Moreover, your professor can find it improper, especially if no solid explanation follows. Supposing you actually had an emergency, try softening your approach and explaining the situation. Professors are humans, too, and have no intent on ruining your college time and grades for you. In any case, always try to ask or at least let your teacher know before you skip, not after.

I didn’t have enough time because I had a lot of other homework assignments/sports training/things to do/…

Here you are literally saying to your professor that their class is not important to you and that their effort to teach you something on the subject will go in vain. And it’s indeed offensive because they have spent their time preparing high-quality materials for the classes, and they expect to be treated with due respect. So work on improving your time-management skills and set priorities on the basis of whether the tasks due are obligatory or optional. This is crucial for stress management when in college!

Why do I need to … learn this rule/complete this task/come to this class/take this course?

It’s one thing to ask about the connection between the new material and what you have already learned, and it’s completely another one to imply the information is irrelevant or that you hate being in this class. Remember the fact that the person in front of you has dedicated years of their life to studying the field they are teaching. If you have questions, ask politely and be patient.

Some Other Pieces of Advice

  • Don’t compare professors. Each of them is unique, as well as the material they choose and their teaching methods. 
  • Don’t ask professors if you’ve missed something important. Try to research it independently or simply ask for the pages you need to read to catch up.
  • Don’t brag about how late you started doing homework and how quickly you finished it all because it was easy. You may be trying to emphasize how smart you are, but along the way, you are showing that you put off your professor’s tasks for later as if they don’t matter enough.
  • Don’t use the language you use with your friends. Just don’t. Not only there’s a generation gap but also fundamental rules of respectful behavior.

Iliana K