College is not easy. This fall, I began my sophomore year at Union College, and it is definitely much more challenging than the previous year, especially since I have all upper-level classes this term, two of them being biology classes and one other intensive political science class. Though students often jokingly debate which is more rigorous, future-proof, and overall superior, humanities and STEM students alike face the need to manage the stress of juggling academics, extracurriculars, a social life, and planning for post-grad. All of this at once can be overwhelming; and while I’m still early in my college career, I want to offer some tips for overcoming the overwhelmingness associated with being a college student today.
The most important thing that I am still learning to ace properly is time management. One of the main stressors in college is managing a busy schedule, and it is natural to want to do something other than just studying. For this reason, prioritizing tasks is very important. I know we all want to keep up with everything every day, still, it is impossible to do that sometimes without sacrificing something. Creating a detailed schedule has helped me and, along with that, leaving a block of two to three hours of free time for some recreational activities, such as going to a fun event or spending some time with friends. A few digital tools that I utilize are Google Calendar and Google Keep; they have come in very handy to me during the academic year. I use Google Calendar to keep track of my extracurricular commitments and classes. At the same time, Google Keep helps me create a to-do list of things I need to get done by the end of the day, such as a quiz that I need to complete or the fact that I absolutely need to finish buying groceries for the rest of the week.
It is also crucial for students to realize that college is not meant to be a solitary journey, and there is no shame in asking for help. In this trimester, I am finding one of my biology classes to be challenging as it involves a lot of complex concepts together. To make the material more manageable for me, I have been regularly going to my professor’s office hours and tutoring sessions. There are resources that every college offers to make complex classes easier for students; they are there to be used, and utilizing them will help you in the long run. I speak for myself; going to tutoring sessions has helped me the most as there are students who are in the same place as you, and we all make an effort to understand the material together by utilizing active learning methods.
Discussing the material with fellow classmates can simply it to a great extent and thus help reduce stress through collective problem-solving. Utilizing online resources like Khan Academy, Coursera, and edX for science-related classes and sites like Google Scholar and JSTOR for humanities allows students to supplement their coursework with insightful material and helps them understand complicated concepts.
Last but not least, sleep is essential; neglecting physical health is a big NO. For me, sleep is a big stress reliever, and there are days when, after a long day of work, the only thing that I look forward to is a hot meal and seven hours of sleep.
Being kind to yourself is crucial, as in college, there is only one person in charge of your well-being, and that is you. Whether they study in a STEM field or humanities, it can be hard for students to manage the stress that comes with being at a university. Everyone needs help at times, so don’t be afraid to speak up. College can be hard — together, we’ll make it through.