Going to college is like embarking on an adventure. Leaving behind the relative comforts of high school, you now enter this new world. You will meet people and learn things that will shape your future. But like any other adventure, going to college is not without its problems. In fact, it is not surprising if college turns out to be one of the most challenging chapters in your life. In this post, we look at the ten most common problems of college students and the ways to overcome them. You can consider this as an essential guide to surviving your first semester; for if you can survive your first, you'll be ready for the rest of what college life has to offer
1. Mounting Student Debt
The Problem: One of the biggest problems college students face is mounting student debt. As the cost of higher education continues to rise, more students are forced to take out loans in order to finance their education. The problem has grown so serious that the issue has been declared a national crisis. According to current data, over 44 million Americans have outstanding student loans. The average student debt today is $37,000. Unless you come from a wealthy family, you probably will also have to borrow money.
The Solution: Although it may be impossible to completely avoid borrowing money, you can avoid crippling student loan debt you incur by employing various strategies. These include applying for scholarships, asking for financial aid, attending a state university or community college, working part-time while studying, taking some time off before college, and being wiser in how you spend your money.
2. Managing Time
The Problem: College life can be extremely hectic. You have your courses, your projects, your organizations, and your social life. With all these commitments vying for your attention, you might feel overwhelmed and in need of more time to accomplish all your tasks. Later on, you may be forced to miss classes, drop out of courses, and turn in poor coursework. The feeling that time is just never enough is a common sentiment among college students.
The Solution: It is understandable that you want to have fun, fulfilling, and memorable experiences in college. But you also need to realize that you just can’t do everything you want when you have limited time on your hands. Understand the importance of managing your time wisely. Set your priorities straight, work only on commitments that you can handle, and avoid procrastination. Devote adequate time for rest and recreation, but always be mindful so that you don’t waste precious time on unnecessary endeavors.
3. Making New Friends
The Problem: So you’re new in college and you don’t know a single soul. Being surrounded by strangers also make you feel vulnerable and intimidated. You’re not alone; most people around you probably feel the same. Making new friends is among the most common student problems in college, especially for those who are shy or introverted. The first few months can be difficult for you as you struggle to cope with college life without the support of others.
The Solution: Approaching people can be a nerve-wracking experience. But do not be afraid to introduce yourself. You’ll be surprised to find out that people are friendlier than they look. It also helps if you carry yourself with confidence. Another way to make new friends is by joining student organizations or college clubs. Know more about the organizations at your school and join those that interest you. Building friendships with people will be a lot easier if you have shared interests.
4. Getting Adequate Sleep
The Problem: Similar to managing time effectively, getting enough sleep is also one of the problems of a college student. College students are among the most sleep-deprived people in the world. It is not unusual for a student to sometimes skip a full night of sleep to complete coursework. Yet lack of sleep can negatively affect your performance. Research shows that sleep deprivation is linked with reduced concentration, loss of focus, and decreased cognitive functioning.
The Solution: Although losing some sleep is sometimes unavoidable, you can minimize this problem by establishing a personal routine on top of managing your time wisely. For instance, going to bed at the same time every night is associated with better sleep. Sleeping in a cool, clean, quiet, and darkroom will also help you rest better. You may not be able to sleep for as long as you want, but you can definitely enhance the quality of your sleep.
5. Eating Right
The Problem: Most college students would agree that eating healthy is a challenge. Living away from home, you might find yourself with limited options when it comes to food. For instance, many students do not have the time to shop for groceries and prepare meals every day. Others do not have access to kitchens. As a result, a lot of students rely on fast food and processed food for their daily needs, while many others might just skip meals altogether. Such poor dietary practice, however, has been linked to negative health effects.
The Solution: One way to ensure that you get enough nutrition is by planning your meals ahead of time. If you have access to a kitchen and have a refrigerator, you can spend part of your weekend cooking meals that will last you the entire week. You can also search around the campus for places that serve affordable and healthy options. If you need to eat processed food, choose healthier ones. For example, eating an oatmeal bar is definitely healthier than munching on a bag of potato chips.
6. Getting Sick
The Problem: Also included in the list of college student problems is getting sick. Avoiding getting sick is next to impossible. Sometimes in those years, you spend in college, you’ll spend a few days in bed waiting out a sickness such as a bad cold or the seasonal flu. If you fall sick while in college, chances are your parents or siblings won’t be there to take care of you. While you may have friends who can look after you while you recuperate, it’s likely that they will not be able to do so all the time. Getting sick, therefore, is a real challenge while you are in college.
The Solution: The best way to deal with this problem is by being proactive when it comes to your health. Eating a well-balanced and nutritious diet, getting enough rest, and engaging in physical activity are just some of the ways to boost your immune system. While you may not be able to prevent getting sick, being in tip-top shape certainly increases your chances of beating sickness faster. Also, know more about the health services and initiatives available at your campus. This will help you get the medical attention you need for a quick recovery.
7. Living with a Roommate
The Problem: Having a roommate can be fun, especially if you get along well. But for many students, a sloppy, insensitive, and inconsiderate roommate can be a source of stress. For example, some roommates do not respect boundaries and will have no qualms about using their roommates’ things without permission, eating their roommates’ food, being noisy while their roommates sleep, and leaving the room messy. While living with a terrible roommate may seem a small thing, it can negatively impact your academic performance.
The Solution: Screening potential roommates is one of the solutions to this problem. Be assertive when talking to a potential roommate. For instance, do not be afraid to lay down ground rules when it comes to personal stuff, food, and cleanliness. At the end of the day, diplomacy, negotiation, and compromise are what make dealing with personal differences in a dorm room more manageable.
The Problem: Also included among common college student problems is homesickness. While going to college can be exciting, it also means leaving family and friends you grew up with behind. For many students, college could mean not seeing their loved ones for months or in some cases even years. Being away from familiar surroundings may also add to the feeling of homesickness.
The Solution: One way to deal with homesickness is by taking advantage of opportunities to come home. If you live just a few hours’ drives away, you can visit at least once every couple of months. If this is not possible, constantly communicate with your family by using modern technology. For instance, calling your parents a few times a week should help you cope. Also, taking things that remind you of home such as a favorite pillow or family pictures is a good way to fight homesickness.
9. Balancing Your Social Life
The Problem: One of the more exciting aspects of college is having a vibrant social life. In college, you will meet new friends through class, organizations, and other social activities. While expanding your network has its benefits, it becomes a problem if your social life begins to interfere with your studies. Conflicts with friends or your partner may also make your life more complicated than you are able to handle.
The Solution: Having a social life is important, but you still need to prioritize your academic performance. Set aside time for your personal relationships, but don’t forget that most of your time should still be spent on attending classes and completing coursework. Also, choose friends or a partner who brings out the best in you—people who will support you in achieving your goals rather than distract you.
The Problem: Although college is a wonderful time, the many problems faced by students are more than enough to strain mental health. Research findings have consistently shown that college students are at risk of developing depression due to the stress that they experience due to a variety of factors. Depression, in turn, can negatively impact their academic performance, general health, and overall quality of life. Every year, thousands of college students seek treatment for depression.
The Solution: Depression is difficult to battle, but there are ways to address this issue. One way is by seeking professional help. Know more about your mental health services available in your school. For instance, many schools have professional counselors who talk to students to help them get back on track. There are also hotlines students can call when confronted by a crisis. Joining support groups also offers an effective support system that can help you cope in times of need.
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College offers great opportunities for personal, educational, and professional development. But it’s also a time when you will face common college student problems that will test your endurance. Just because college student problems are common doesn’t mean that they should be taken for granted. Learning to recognize these problems early on increases your chances of making the most out of your time in college.
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