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How to Tackle Common Challenges in College

College Students

Many people consider college one of the best times in their lives, so it goes without saying that college can be an amazing and valuable experience. Just like pretty much everything else, though, college comes with its fair share of challenges. While every college student’s experience is unique to them, there are some common challenges that most students face in their college experience. Don’t be worried, though - we’ve got the solutions for the common challenges college students face!

Challenge: Homesickness

Homesick

This challenge typically applies to students who have moved relatively far away to attend college, or even to students who have just moved from where they’re used to. Homesickness is common with many students, and can bring about feelings of anxiety, lower motivation, changes in appetite, and just severely missing home. Homesickness can be really difficult to deal with, and isn’t something most students take lightly.

Solutions for Homesickness

Thankfully for many students out there that experience homesickness, there are some remedies to help combat it. If you or someone you know is feeling homesick at college, try these solutions:

  • Remember that it’s okay to feel that way!
  • Keep in mind there are other students feeling the same way you do.
  • Keep in touch with those you’re missing - visit if you can, send and receive care packages, and engage in calls and video chats.
  • Explore a little more of your new surroundings to get more acquainted with them. You may get a little remembrance of home, or even find some things you like more than home.
  • Try to branch out and surround yourself with others! Friends, acquaintances and networks can help take your mind off homesickness and give you the feeling of belonging in your new surroundings.
  • Take care of yourself. Eat well, keep a good sleeping schedule, and whatever else you need to feel good.

Challenge: Stress

Stressed

New surroundings and experiences, impending deadlines, and trying to manage college with other aspects of life can be stressful - and those are only a few of the stressful aspects of college. Stress is something probably every college student has faced. According to Purdue University, approximately 45% of college students said they experienced “more than average stress.” Stress takes energy away from other parts of your brain and body that are needed for daily functions, and can lead to a number of other physiological and psychological effects.

Solutions for Stress

While there’s no one solution for stress, there are ways to help manage stress. Many people manage stress by planning and journaling. Others manage stress by exercising, stretching, or engaging in breathing exercises. Taking breaks from tasks also helps to not feel overwhelmed. Try these solutions for better stress management:

  • Exercise
  • Eat well!
  • Have an outlet, or a way to take a break. Hobbies like drawing, hiking, gardening, and reading are all examples of outlets.
  • Build a strong support system. Family and friends are more than likely to help you in times of need and offer their own tips for stress management.
  • Start a journal
  • Set realistic expectations for goals and tasks
  • Sleep well

Challenge: Time Management

Watch

With the lifestyle changes and schedule changes college brings, time management is a huge challenge for college students. When trying to balance work, classes, homework, co-curricular activities, and everything else life can bring, it can feel overwhelming and like time is limited. Additionally, without effective time management skills in college, grades can suffer, health can suffer, and so can other aspects of life. Time management is important!

Solutions for Time Management

Adopting effective time management skills can help college students (and everyone else too, really) feel more productive, like they have more time, and less stressed. Everyone gets the same 24 hours in a day, but what is done with those 24 hours really makes a difference. These solutions can help hone effective time management skills:

  • Download a time tracking app, calendar app or planning app to keep track of deadlines and obligations.
  • Alternatively, get a paper planner or calendar to keep track of deadlines and obligations.
  • Do a time audit: where are you already spending your time? How are you potentially wasting it?
  • Set time limits for all your tasks with breaks in between.
  • Plan your week ahead on Sunday, or plan your day ahead the night before.
  • Prioritize your tasks! How much time do you need for each one? Which is most important?
  • We’re most motivated and active in the mornings (for most people). Use this time to complete your most important tasks.
  • Get rid of distractions! Give Netflix or social media or video games a break. Go to a quiet room away from others. Whatever helps.
  • Learn to say “no” to things that don’t fit in with your time management.
  • When you’re waiting for something, like an appointment or a flight, utilize that time to get tasks done.

For in depth explanations and tips to managing your time wisely, check out our guide to effective time management skills here!

Challenge: Managing Finances

Piggy Bank

Life is expensive and managing finances is tough even before you throw tuition, books and supplies, and housing into the mix. Oh, and don’t forget about social events! Managing finances is a challenge almost every college student faces. A study from Ohio State University shows that 7 out of 10 college students feel stressed about their finances. Luckily, there are ways to feel more confident and less stressed about managing finances while in college.

Solutions for Managing Finances

Practicing effective money management in college can not only help students during their college career, but throughout their lives as well. Learning to manage finances is an extremely important life skill, and can lead to feeling more confident and avoiding debt. Here are some solutions for effectively managing finances in college:

  • Add up your monthly income and your monthly expenses. How much money do you bring in each month? What do your monthly expenses look like? Is there anything left over?
  • Separate wants from needs. When going over your monthly expenses, are you spending a little too much on things that aren’t totally necessary? See where you can budget.
  • Try opening an account at a bank that has benefits for college students. Many big banks like Chase and U.S. Bank offer college checking accounts with little to no fees and other benefits. Remember, bank fees can add up too!
  • Always research the types of loans and student aid available before taking any to make sure you have one that fits your needs (and preferably has the best rates).
  • Take advantage of student discounts! College ID’s, student numbers and emails can provide you with many different discounts and perks from all different types of companies. For example, students can get an Amazon Prime Membership for a six month free trial and then at a rate of 50% off after the trial ends.
  • Buy used textbooks and materials, or rent textbooks and materials to save costs.

Challenge: Eating Well

Eating

Eating well is a challenge for a lot of people, not just college students, but college students often face even bigger challenges with eating well. Schedules can be hectic, disrupting meal times and causing students to choose convenience over health when it comes to food. Additionally, many students are often eating on a budget or in a dining hall, which can lead to more challenges.

Solutions for Eating Well

While everyone is different and there is no set solution for everyone to eat well, there are still a few core tips to make sure that as a college student you’re getting the right nutrition you need. So, what are some solutions for eating well in college? Here are a few:

  • Always try to eat breakfast, regardless of what time you wake up. Oatmeal, peanut butter, fruit, and Greek yogurt are all great breakfasts that can be eaten on the go.
  • Keep healthy snacks around instead of unhealthy ones. Oreos taste great and all, but snacks like almonds and carrots are a lot better for you.
  • Additionally, keep your food area stocked with healthy foods rather than unhealthy foods so that when you’re ready to eat, you aren’t tempted with the unhealthy ones.
  • Plan your meals daily or weekly so you don’t have to worry about figuring out what to make - which could lead to the easy way out: fast food!
  • Put limits on sugary and caffeinated beverages. Avoid the Pepsi and Starbucks if you can, and try to drink a smoothie or water instead.
  • Try to incorporate fruits and vegetables into your diet daily. Bananas, apples, carrots and celery are all fruits and vegetables that are easy to take on the go and eat whenever.
  • Drink water! Carry a water bottle around for extra convenience.
  • Don’t skip meals. Your body (and brain) will thank you for it!

Challenge: Getting Enough Sleep

Sleeping

We get it: exams. Deadlines. Work. Events. Really cool parties. Going to college can lead to a lot less sleep, which can lead to challenges with health and a multitude of other things. According to the University of Georgia, sleep helps us fight off illnesses, restore our immunity, strengthens memory, helps us think more effectively, and even helps bring a more positive mood. Pretty important, right?

Solutions for Getting Enough Sleep

As you can tell, getting an adequate amount of sleep is crucial, and it’s a pretty big challenge for college students. So, how can college students get enough sleep? First, it’s helpful to know that most adults need 6-10 hours of sleep per night. The University of Georgia says that if you find yourself feeling a little irritable during any given day, and if you find yourself sleeping an extra 2 or more hours on the weekends (or days off) then you’re probably not getting enough sleep. Here’s how to get on your way to getting enough sleep:

  • Maintain a sleep ritual. Sleep rituals are routines that help you wind down from the day and prepare to go to sleep. Try to keep to a regular sleep and wake up time every day - even on days off or weekends.
  • Don’t take your tech to bed. This includes cell phones, computers, tablets, and e-readers. Don’t forget television, either: the blue light that comes from these gadgets represses the production of melatonin, which is the hormone that’s responsible for controlling your sleep-wake cycle.
  • Reserve your bed for sleeping only, so that your body associates it with sleeping, and not other activities. As nice as it sounds to grab a snack and a book and head to bed to study, it’s in your best interest that you do so in a separate area.
  • Keep your sleep area dark. This can be done with blackout curtains or even an eye mask.
  • Keep your sleep area quiet and cool.
  • Finish eating 2-3 hours before your established bedtime.
  • Avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol 3-4 hours before your established bedtime.
  • Limit daytime naps to an hour or less.

Conclusion

Homesickness, stress, time management, finances, eating right, sleeping enough… sounds like a lot to handle on top of everything else in college and life, right? Have no fear, because you’re now equipped with some of the best strategies to combat common challenges college students face. You can do it!