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The Top College Student Stressors and How to Deal With Them

Four years of unadulterated freedom, fun, and study. It’s what many teenagers spend their early lives waiting for and starting college is a huge deal. As your first real time away from home with no adults to direct your daily life, it’s paradise. Right?

But going to college is rarely a breeze. From day one, common college student stressors appear, leaving many students overwhelmed and anxious. It’s perfectly natural to feel this way during such a major life change. But various stressors might take you by surprise. 

Learning about the difficulties you may face or already are facing is the best way to be prepared. By recognizing what’s stressing you out, you can take steps to deal with it healthily. From speaking with counselors to renting textbooks, there are many ways to ease common stressors.

Keep reading to discover the common sources of stress for college students and how to cope with them. Soon, you’ll be able to identify and manage stress, allowing you to make the most of college. 

The Importance of Dealing with Stress at College

A completely new environment, college might feel like a world where you don’t know any of the rules. When you feel the prickle of stress, it’s tempting to push it away and pretend everything’s fine. Everyone else is coping surely, so why can’t you?

In fact, over 40% of students feel overwhelmed by college. So if you’re feeling stressed, you’re not alone. 

When you ignore the sources of stress that affect you, they won’t go away. They may well get worse and affect your health, sleep, and studies. When all those things deteriorate, you may feel even more stressed. 

This vicious cycle is why it’s so important to learn how to recognize and deal with the stress in your life. Let’s look at what might impact your stress levels.  

Money Stress

No one’s in the dark about this: college is expensive. Not only are fees high, but loans come with large interest rates and living expenses can get out of hand. With little time to earn money, financial stress is one of the main college student stressors. 

A study put the figure of students experiencing financial stress at 60% with some feeling the impact of the stress on their studies. 

The first step is to spend and borrow as little as possible. That’s not to say you should cut back on essentials, instead you should keep unnecessary expenditure to a minimum. Books are often a big expense for students but you can mitigate this by selling your textbooks after you’ve finished that class.

Finding a job that fits around your studies is also helpful. You can look for work on campus or part-time work in your local area. Having a small income will help ease the financial burden. 

Making a budget is a great way to get a handle on your finances and see what your expenses are. Being honest about the money you need and the money you have will help you stay on top of it. 

Academic Stress

No matter how well you did in high school, college is a different matter. Heavy workloads, new ways of studying, and exam seasons can all create stress. College is supposed to be challenging but not to the detriment of your health. 

The first thing is to understand that your time in class is not the only time you should put aside for that subject. Much of your “free time” is there for studying, not for watching Netflix. 

With your class schedule, create a timetable for your days and weeks. Dedicate time to reading, coursework, and any other related learning activities. By sticking to a timetable, you’ll better be able to manage your workload.

Relationship Stress

Making new friendships and meeting new romantic partners can be stressful at any time of your life, especially on campus. In such a small world, managing different relationships and personalities can be tough. 

The pressure to drink or take drugs can also overwhelm and you might feel you need to agree to things you don’t want to. 

Always remember that being at college is also about learning to be an adult. This comes with saying no to anything you don’t want and respecting the decisions of others. Campus counselors can be a huge help if there’s anything personal (or academic) that you need help working out. 

Health Stress

When you’re feeling stressed, it’s common to crave junk food. But instead of making you feel better, it makes you feel worse. With fewer nutrients and higher amounts of salt and sugar, the short- and long-term health effects of poor-quality, processed food are huge. 

When you feel unfit, unhealthy, and tired, you may quickly become stressed about your health. Your diet and exercise levels both have a big impact on your overall health and stress. 

No matter how tempting a takeaway is, focus on eating healthy, whole foods. When you eat well, you’ll have more energy, focus, and enjoy better sleep. Gym memberships can be expensive, but there are plenty of ways to get fit for free. 

Running and yoga can both be done with zero expenditure yet have sweeping benefits for your health and sleep. You can also join campus sports clubs, a great way to make friends and stay healthy. 

Career Stress

Even if you’re starting college now, your future career might weigh heavily. Feeling like you should know what you want to do or that you should’ve made more progress can be very stressful. 

You might reap the benefits of focusing less on your future career and more on gaining a variety of experience and education. Careers are no longer set in stone and by learning widely, you open up more opportunities later down the line. 

Try out different work experience, attend networking events to learn from others, and remember that a well-rounded knowledge is always beneficial. 

You Can Manage These College Student Stressors 

By preparing yourself for common stressors, you’ll be able to manage them if and when they turn up. By organizing your finances and workload, you may well find you’ll minimize those college student stressors from the beginning. 

Staying healthy is critical to getting good sleep and having the energy you need to study. Eating well and keeping active doesn’t have to be difficult. When you stay healthy, you’ll be in a better position to manage any other stress. 

An easy way to save money is by getting your textbooks as cheap as possible. Check out our huge range of affordable textbooks and remember, you can sell them back when you don’t need them. Small steps like this ease that financial burden.

About the Author

Christopher Manns

I was born in the UK, grew up in Canada and have lived in the USA since the 90s. I love my family, water sports, ice hockey, skiing and soccer. When I'm not helping people save money on textbooks, I'm travelling with my wonderful family and playing sports.