While time spent at university is a fond memory and a happy experience for most, university life is not without its rough patches. Every student’s situation is unique, but there are a few problems that almost all university students deal with at least once during their time at school. If you are on your way to college, get a jump on how to deal with the challenges that may come your way.
Problem: University is academically challenging. For many, university courses require much more effort than high school classes. Unlike most high schools, universities often pack two years of content into one year. Many students take a full 15 credit semester, while other try to cram in up to 18 or even 21 credits. At times, it seems impossibe to stay on top of it all.
Solution: Know your limits. If you can’t handle 18 credit semesters, it is worth it in the long run to slow down and take only 15. While the purpose of university is to study and to further your education, that doesn’t mean studying all of the time. It is important to schedule time for fun and to take breaks from studying to keep your mind fresh and clear.
Problem: Tuition costs are rising at alarmingly high rates. Add to that the cost of meals, supplies, transportation, and textbooks, and you have a university student’s worst nightmare. University students drop out of school each year because they cannot afford the price. Others are forced to juggle full academic schedules with full time jobs to make ends meet. It is becoming increasingly difficult for students to graduate debt-free.
Solution: Student loans are relatively easy to get. Many students, however, don’t know how repayment works and just how many years they may spend paying off their loans. Consider an on-campus job. Working on-campus will cut out potential transportation expenses and help you stay more focused academically. If you had a job in high school and are going to university locally, see if you can keep working while in school. If you are going away to school, inquire about transferring to a job location near your school. In addition, create a budget for shopping trips and eating out and stick to it.
3. Working While in School
Problem: To afford the high price of college tuition, many students must get a job. Juggling a job, 15 to 18 credits, and a club or sports team is a big commitment. Many students try to cram all of these activities into one day and do not get enough sleep. Without proper rest, students are vulnerable to health problems.
Solution: Decide what is important. Prioritize and schedule events, games, meetings, and studies accordingly. Also, be aware of your options when getting a job. Universities often offer jobs to students that fit into a student’s schedule.
Homesickness is a common and normal challenge for university students, especially for those who are very far from home and in their first year of school. If you can, visit home once every month or two and ask your family to send care packages.
Problem: Whether they admit it or not, most students will at one point get homesick. It is especially common for students who go to a school that is more than three hours from home to feel homesick. Freshmen suffer more, as it is presumably their first year away from home.
Solution: If you live within three or four hours from home (a comfortable day’s drive) then plan to visit home once every month or two. Ask friends and family to send care packages, emails, and phone calls. These steps should greatly assist in reducing feelings of homesickness.
Problem: Every problem on this list can raise a student’s stress level. Some find relief in partying, and others (even some who party) may find themselves getting depressed.
Solution: If stress and depression are an issue, seek professional support. Many campuses have free counseling programs for students. Counselors are trained to listen and help students get back on track. (This doesn’t mean the partying has to stop either, so long as students are partying responsibly and legally.)
6. Sickness/Health Conditions
Problem: Heightened stress and lack of sleep can cause health problems. Living in close quarters also poses health risks and can increase a student’s chances of contracing some sort of virus.
Solution: Eat healthy, balanced meals. Get a good night’s rest as well. Keep your hands illness does develop, visit your campus clinic.
Problem: Friends and roommates are important for fun social activities. However, spending time together can be challenging. Conflicts can arise.
Solution: Take some time out for yourself. If possible, get away from campus for a break and visit a coffee shop or a mall. If conflicts do arise and you need help, get your RA or another friend involved.
Problem: Partying in itself is not a problem. Parties were designed so that students can have a good time. However, some parties can cause problems. Too much alcohol can lead to drunkenness and potentially deadly situations. Having sex without taking the necessary precautions can spread disease.
Solution: While parties are important for blowing off steam, enjoy them in a responsible and legal way so you don’t create problems for yourself or others. Get to know your limits. Ask for a ride home if you’ve had a lot to drink. Make sure to eat and drink enough water when consuming alcohol. Carry a condom with you when you go to a party.
Problem: Relationships are good, but they can be overwhelming. There are times in every relationship when a couple will have a disagreement or issue. Disagreements between couples can distract students from school work and add to stress levels. Break-ups can drive some students even further into depression.
Solution: Relationship advice is hard to give. It varies on a case-by-case basis. Try and reconcile their differences but if you do break up, consult with a school counselor to work through the experience.
10. Choosing a Major
Problem: There is a lot of pressure to choose a major. It is easy to think that your major will determine your future career and how much money you will make.
Solution: University majors are important, but they do not chisel your future career or wages into stone. Choose something that you like. If you are unsure about what major to choose, choose something broad and versatile, such as communications. Many students who get their undergraduate degree in one field progress to get a Master’s degree in a different area. Worrying too much about your major is simply not worth it. Focus instead on gaining knowledge and life skills.
Is University Worth it All?
These are just ten of the major challenges that college students face. In the end, is college worth facing these problems and struggles? Ask college students, and probably eight out of ten will say it is. While students can get stressed to the limit, the good times outweigh the bad.