Originally published on 8/17/2015.

No one said getting through college would be easy. If you are about to start your 2nd or 3rd year, or even if you are about to embark on your 1st year of school, let’s look at ways to make college less stressful.

Stress management may not be a popular topic for college students but it is crucial, especially for first generation college students. Statistics show lower graduation rates for first generation students compared to students who have a family member with a college degree. Many students fail to consider the struggles they’ll face AFTER getting their acceptance letter. Click To Tweet

If you want to start your school year with less stress keep these ideas in mind:

Budgeting

If you are a college freshman receiving financial aid, your check will look enticing. Keep in mind all the expenses at the beginning of the year, regardless of where you attend school. Students attending school close to home may find it easier to rely on friends and family when their money runs low. You are a grown up now and this is the time to learn adult responsibilities.

If you are not a first year student take a look at lessons learned from the past. Did you buy your books too late last year or didn’t save money over the summer for books? Is your employment situation different this year? What type of accommodations will you have to make? Where can you cutback (parking, transportation, living arrangements, work schedule)?

Money can be a stressor your entire adult life if you don’t start healthy habits or learn to plan for expenses. It would be a shame to leave college early because of money problems that could have been avoided.

 

Social Supports

Being social isn’t limited to parties!!

Having a healthy social network is very important. Personally, I switched colleges in my junior year and I didn’t know anyone at my new school. I joined an organization that helped cement social networks and ended up being a second family to me.

Being around like-minded individuals with common interests is part of the college experience. Networking gives you better insight into your field of study as well as opportunities after graduation.

Look into peer support networks, Greek organizations, cultural groups or any type of group that fits your interests. As a Latina, I felt closer to my campus community because I was a member of a multi-cultural organization.

Become a peer advisor and help out new students at your institution. Give back and test out your mentoring skills!

 

Healthy Diet

Research shows the negative impact of fatty food on brain function, productivity and overall health in general. The “Freshman 15” is not an urban legend!

Eating poorly or not on a regular basis can be detrimental to your studies. This can go back to budgeting. Do you have access to breakfast, lunch or small meals between classes?

Are you sleeping right up until class starts? Are you only fueling up with coffee or caffeine in between meals?

I had a meal card my first year of school but lived off campus my sophomore year. I had to budget for lunch because I couldn’t run to the residence hall or dining commons between classes. As an adult, I have no problem packing snacks for lunch or on trips but it didn’t occur to me to plan ahead as a college sophomore.

Utilize the student health center on campus or your school’s counseling program if you need extra support. If finances are truly a burden, your institution’s student resource center should be able to direct you to food banks or food assistance programs.

 

College has enough stresses and responsibilities. Prior preparation will help prevent poor performance! Good luck this year!