7 Common Anxiety-Inducing Experiences in College
Is the thought of college giving you butterflies? Find out what are the common college situations that are sure to have your tummy in a knot.
Updated 08 May 2019
Being yanked out of secondary school after 5 long years of the same routine and immediately thrust into the madness that is college life is daunting as it is. Heap on the barrage of new personalities to deal with and the ever-present challenges that come with college life and you’re left with a recipe for disaster.
We know college is tough, so we’re giving you the 4-1-1 on some of the panic-generating scenarios you might face, along with some tips on how to deal with them head-on.
#1. Meeting new people
You may have vowed to avoid eye contact and painful small talk with anyone on your first day of college but sooner or later, meeting new people will be inevitable.
While socialising with a group of strangers may be a harrowing experience for some, all it takes is a few simple tricks to strike up a conversation that might result in an exchange of phone numbers or a plan to have a meal together in between classes. Who knows, you might be just one awkward conversation away from your new best friend!
Friends are an important asset to your college experience. Not only will they be plenty of help in class and with your assignments and study groups, but they’ll also form a crucial support system throughout your study duration. Rest assured, the memories you’ll make with your mates will be the highlight of your college experience.
#2. Living on your own
Going to a college far from your hometown means living away from the comforts of home, and likely for the first time.
So if you’re flabbergasted at the thought of having to mop, navigate a washing machine and get to class on time, don’t worry. Living away from mum may seem like hell on earth at first, but staying on your own is an incredibly eye-opening experience.
If you’re the kind of person who can’t differentiate between a broom and a mop, make friends with those staying in your dormitory or apartment block. They might have a life hack or 2 that could save you time, and it’s easier to handle chores when you’re figuring it out with a friend.
There’s no easy way to put it — the first night alone will be hard. But as time goes on, you’ll have plenty of friends and activities to keep you occupied. Even if you're prone to bouts of homesickness, mum and dad are only a text message away.
#3. Living with strangers
Moving into a new place to live with strangers sounds extremely intimidating, but it is possible to coexist peacefully.
So why not break the ice and strike up a conversation with your housemates? You could also pick one night a week to have a meal or go grocery shopping together. It also helps to divide the cleaning tasks with a weekly roster and be honest about your dislikes with each other early on.
Even if you end up bunking in with a roommate who couldn’t be more different from you, it’s not the end of the world! Communicate your problems maturely and remember that compromise is key during any argument.
Both your needs and expectations are just as valid, but sharing a space with someone else means there must be some give-and-take to keep both sides happy.
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#4. Getting lost on campus in your first week
Have we mentioned that orientation week is necessary to survive college? Getting your bearings early in the semester will make your life easier when you’re rushing from one class to the next on your own.
Jot down landmarks during your campus tour to help you navigate this foreign environment on the first day of class. If you aren’t confident enough to venture out on your own, meet up with a classmate and walk to class together.
If all else fails, just ask for directions. You might end up walking into the wrong class once or twice, but we’ve all been there.
#5. Approaching your lecturers
Lecturers may seem like strange, unrelatable creatures from the days of yore but they’re more approachable than you think.
One way to make an impression is to actively participate in class. Attend tutorials prepared with the learning material and volunteer to answer questions when you can. Show that you’re interested in the subject by sharing materials relevant to the course with your lecturer and take advantage of their consultation hours.
It’s important that you make a good impression on your lecturers as they are instrumental to your success in college. Not only does the fate of your grade lie in their hands, but they are also the first point of reference about your character in college and are in the best position to write you a letter of recommendation upon graduation.
#6. Public speaking
“His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy...”
Does Eminem’s Lose Yourself lyrics speak to you on a personal level every time you have to talk in front of a crowd? Stage fright or performance anxiety is not only common but is rated as the biggest fear of American adults.
There will be plenty of opportunities for you to face this bull by the horns in college as you’ll be required to answer questions in tutorials, give presentations in class and participate in co-curricular activities in your free time.
While stage fright can’t be rectified overnight, it might help to practice relaxation exercises, such as deep breathing before you’re due to present. Prepare and practise your material beforehand, communicate to your audience and remember that it's okay to make mistakes, as long as you learn from them!
#7. Exams, deadlines and the pressure to excel
Your newfound freedom in college might result in an overdose of enjoyment, but have no fear! You’ll be quickly brought back down to earth as deadlines loom and exam season gets too close for comfort.
While some form of anxiety in college is beneficial, it’s easy to buckle under the intense pressure of exams, the rush to meet your assignment deadlines and the recurring struggle to maintain your good grades.
To ease your anxiety, it’s important to set realistic goals for yourself and to take it one day at a time. If you’re overwhelmed, don’t be ashamed to get help from a friend, lecturer or even your college counsellor.
Remember — your mental health is of utmost importance, but it often goes ignored in this highly stressful environment. Practise self-reflection to learn from your mistakes and don’t forget to give yourself a break once in a while!
Now, wait a minute. This isn’t a scare tactic meant to transform you into a bundle of nerves at the prospect of starting college. Scary stuff aside, college is an exciting new adventure built to equip you with the skills you’ll need to navigate the big, bad world. Take each moment in your stride and savour the experience. It’ll be over before you know it!