Entering college is one of the most unforgettable experiences you’ll ever have. For many young adults, it’s the first time you’re experiencing life on your own. It’s filled with newfound freedom, opportunities, and experiences.
But, as exciting as college can be, there are certain aspects of college life that students might not be fully prepared for. That can lead to extra stress and anxiety, and might even make it difficult to find your place in your new environment.
The better you understand some of these lesser-known challenges and surprises now, the easier it will be to tackle them as you start your college journey.
Living With Roommates
If your plan is to live on campus, there’s a good chance you’ll be staying in a dorm with at least one roommate. Nowadays, it’s easy to meet and even get to know your roommates before you actually live together, since most schools will let you know who they are before the semester starts. You can find them on social media, connect, and start chatting before the big move. That can help to break the ice before you officially move in, but you can never really know someone until you’re with them every day.
The last thing you want is to have a negative living experience while you’re in college. You don’t want to dread going back to your dorm after class because things are awkward or tense with your roommates.
To make living with roommates easy, consider having a conversation or two with each other after moving in. Discuss things like boundaries, personal space, and any rules you might want to suggest for your time together. When you can agree on these things early on and respect each other’s privacy, you’re more likely to have a positive experience living together, and there won’t be any awkward interactions between you later.
Managing Your Finances
When you’re in college, you’re essentially on your own for purchasing things you might need. Your room and board are probably already paid for within your tuition, so if you plan on staying on campus, you’re not going to go hungry. But, things come up. You might run out of laundry detergent, or you might want to go off-campus to see a movie with some new friends.
But, when you’re a full-time student, you might not have a lot of time to pick up extra income. First, make sure you’re managing your time effectively. Could you get a part-time job? Do you have time for a side hustle? Do you tend to procrastinate when you could be doing something to make money?
Even if you aren’t able to get a job in school, there are things you can do to save whatever money you do have. Start by creating a monthly budget for yourself. Not only will it make it easier to manage your finances, but it’s good practice for the future. Other tips that can help you save include:
- Minimizing credit card use
- Looking for student discounts
- Setting financial limits
- Minimizing your student debt
College is a great time to learn about money management, so while you might be stressing over your finances right now, consider it an opportunity for growth. You’re learning important skills that can be used in the real world.
College is a different animal than high school, and there are plenty of little things that will pop up along your journey that you’ve never had to deal with before. Maybe you didn’t have to try very hard to get good grades in high school, but your academic schedule feels overwhelming now, and you’re struggling to keep up. Maybe you’re worried about fitting in and you’re tempted to give in to peer pressure, even if it goes against your values, just so you don’t have to deal with loneliness.
On top of everything else, you’re away from home and essentially on your own for the first time. There’s a reason why so many college students get homesick, and if you don’t find ways to manage your stress and make the most of your experience, your mental health could start to suffer.
Stress is a huge problem among college students. Finding ways to reduce your stress, especially when you’re feeling overwhelmed, will improve your mental health and make it easier to stay productive, motivated, and engaged. Utilize campus resources for mental health, including counselors who are there to listen. Additionally, make sure you’re investing in self-care every day. Self-care practices don’t have to take a lot of time or effort, and they can become important parts of your routine. Try things like:
- Prioritizing sleep
- Maintaining a healthy diet
- Staying hydrated
- Staying physically active
- Practicing mindfulness or meditation
Even something as simple as skincare can be a crucial part of your self-care routine. Adopting a skincare regimen each day can reduce stress and leave you looking and feeling your best by providing a boost to your mental health. Consider it to be a mini spa session each day.
One of the most exciting things about college is that it opens you up to opportunities and experiences you’ve never had before. But, that can also be one of the scariest things. Keep these challenges in mind as you start your collegiate career, and you’ll be more likely to stay one step ahead of them so you can enjoy the journey.