By Brian Schnell
As a first year student, you’re more than likely overwhelmed by all the things that are going on, from school sponsored events, social activities, and academics. In dealing with these, you may become very stressed. Never fear, though; there are easy ways to deal with and potentially eliminate most of the stress you’re dealing with.
At first glance, this stress can make you feel like everything is going wrong, but there is nothing to worry about. With a little help, you’ll survive and thrive.
The first type of stress you’ll deal with is academic stress. This comes from the increase in quantity as well as intensity of assignments and a lack of understanding of material being taught. While there are less-than-ideal solutions to this, such as giving up on the class or dropping the class 18% of students who drop classes do so for class-related reasons according to a recent pilot study done by Cosumnes River College.
If you are struggling with a class, you can easily speak to the professor after class or through an email. If possible, the professor will happily help you to figure all the confusion out. If the professor is unable to help you out, you may have to go to the department head or your advisor as they may be able to speak on your behalf to the professor and sort out confusion. A personal belief is that it shouldn’t be necessary to go to the department head at all.
Another option is the tutoring center in DeMare Hall. The center is filled with numerous professors and educators who are more than willing to help you to find success in your academic endeavours. Many of the educators and professors are highly educated experts and enjoy imparting their wisdom to you.
A final suggestion, albeit the one least suggested, is to find friends who understand the material much better than you do. This is the least suggested as your friends may become tired of constantly having to help you learn the material. Many people say that this is a common occurrence and should be avoided at all costs.
The next form of stress you will come across is social stress. This stress comes in the form of friendship and relationship complications. It can make a simple dispute with a friend into the blow up of the century, as well as turning a happy relationship into breakup and heartbreak.
You will almost definitely make new friends your first year. This is a wonderful thing as there are many different people at different points on their journeys. This is also a bad thing because this allows you to possibly become friends with people that you wouldn’t normally be hanging out with such as those who do drugs, get in trouble, or just make you very uncomfortable. Issues tend to arise in these kinds of interactions as you may be encouraged to do things that could land you in a lot of trouble such as skipping classes, doing drugs, stealing, or doing things you otherwise normally wouldn’t. While you could easily give in as 6 -10% of college students inevitably do, there are much better alternatives.
A very effective and commonly used tactic for handling the pressures of toxic and unhealthy friendships is to cut those ties and make new friends. Once ties are cut, feel free to mingle around the cafes, student lounges, and resource center and make some new friends who won’t get themselves (and by extension you) into all kinds of trouble.
You may also find yourself in a relationship before you know how you got into said relationship. Assuming it’s a happy relationship and you care about each other, you may have to work out some normal issues in a relationship that can cause stress and possible complications. Without delving into the many things that could happen, the basic solution to them will be provided. In order to alleviate relationship complications, you must be open to communication within your relationship and always try to understand their point and they should do the same for you.
On the chance it doesn’t work out between the two of you, don’t fret or get too upset; only 2% of college relationships end up successful where the couples stay together. The best options for coping with the upset and heartache caused by a breakup is to surround yourself with positive things and good friends who will support you. There may be times that no one will be there to support you, but just know that it will definitely get better.
In the midst of all these issues, you may find yourself in situations that are less than ideal: situations where someone is upset with you or there’s unnecessary drama between you, your friends, or whomever. Having spoken to many people, it seems a common way to handle the stress and drama is to remove yourself out of the equation for whatever is going on. There can’t be drama or stress involving you if you aren’t involving yourself. Many people tend to remove themselves until all the commotion and everything calms down.
Finally, you may find yourself stressing over time management between classes, social activities, work, and more. At the first glance, time management may seem to be overwhelming and impossible, but when broken down, it becomes quite simple to understand, therefore making it easy to handle and minimize the stress.
To successfully manage your time, you should decide then list what’s important to you as well as the dates and times of your meetings. Once this list is created, you will have a semi-physical representation and can manage accordingly. Schedule school classes first as you are paying for that and they are quite important.
Another useful trick is to schedule things with buffer time in between. Buffer time is empty time that you can use to do assignments, rest, hang with friends, eat, or a million other things before your next big scheduled event. Buffer time allows for de-stressing, relaxing, and productive use of free time in order to maintain academics. Studies such as the aforementioned one by Cosumnes River College even show that the ideal buffer time is between 45 minutes and a full hour.
In general, you will be faced with stress in many different forms throughout your first year as you get used to college and how things around campus work. This is for the best though, as it is part of the college experience and teaches you how to handle stressful situations like a pro. Overall, using these techniques together and with your best judgement you should be able to successfully navigate your first year. Speaking on behalf on all second year students, it gets much better as you inevitably learn to deal with stresses and other issues that may come up.