Managing Stressors In & After College
Its #finalsszn which means JMU is stress city. Everyone around me is getting their notes ready, reorganizing their lectures, and writing papers. You never really understand what finals in college are like until you experience them -- seriously the amount of stress and nervousness that comes along with them is unreal. As I see all of my friends going a little bit nuts over exams and final papers it got me wondering if these last two weeks of the semester are the biggest stressors of college. Certainly these tests can't be the major result of everyones stress. I asked my Alpha Delta Pi sisters and even some of my Daily Dose of Prep readers what their biggest worries are either in or after college. The responses are kind of all over the place but finals wasn't mentioned once.
Out of the people that answered the anonymous form it seems like most of the worries that students have in college deal with their major, finding a job, dealing with the social scene in college. All three things are extremely real and valid things to be worried about. I love being a college blogger because I know that the majority of my readers are in college or heading into the college level so being able to offer a much advice as I can to you all is great.
Out of all of the responses I received can definitley say that I have worried or am currently, maybe subconsciously worried about 90% of them. Know that if you are stressing about certain aspects of college know that you aren't the only one thinking these things. Sometimes we are so worried about two or three years down the road, the things we need to worry about here and now in college get swept under the rug. Here is my advice to managing the biggest stressors in and after college.
Academic Related Worries
Getting Into Your Major: This is understandably an incredible fear. Some majors don't require you to apply but others do meaning that you have to have good enough grades to be accepted into the major and to receive said degree. If you aren't familiar with this let me explain. As a math major freshman year didn't require an application just taking the right courses and getting the right grades was all I needed to receive my degree. Communications however is an application based major. I have to take three prerequisites and have to be in the top certain percentage of the class to be considered an "SCOM Major".
The way to stay on top of this is work your a*s off. It's a lot of money wasted and a lot of your own time wasted if you slack off and don't get into your major. I would set out study hours every day where you just get organized, make study guides and review. When I started doing this for SCOM, I was much more prepared for class, felt more confident in lectures and was able to connect the dots between chapters. Get to know your professors too. If they're in your major, odds are you will come across them again. Go to their office hours, let them get to know you and your learning style.
Failing Your Classes: If you work hard, turn in assignments on time, and do what is asked of you on the syllabus you will be okay. When I came to college I thought that classes would be these impossible hurdles that very few could overcome and truthfully, it's just like taking an AP class with double the workload. The thing that is most challenging about college classes for me was the time management because you don't have class every single day. You might have class only two days a week. Also, you will only have a few grades. In high school you go from having participation, quizzes, homework assignments, tests, papers, and exams all go into the grade book whereas, college is different. My SCOM class has 5 grades account for the entire semester and my music class has only 8 grades for the whole semester. You just have to study a lot harder and understand that there isn't much room for error.
Again, if you get to know your professors and they see you trying they might be more willing to help you when it comes time for grades to be due. Just stay on top of your assignments and be studying each week. In addition, it's important to know your limits. If you're doing everything in your power to get good grades and it's still not working out, maybe it's a smart idea to drop the class and take a withdrawal instead of an F.
Getting Into Grad School: Grad school is just like applying to college. I don't think I'm the number one person to give advice on the application process just because I haven't experienced it and I won't need to go to grad school, but if there's one tip I have it's to start early. Even if you don't apply for another two years, start doing research. Look at prices, location, what they require from you whether it be a portfolio or an entry exam. Just do your research early and keep your eye on the prize. Remember, graduation first then grad school.
Dealing with Horrible Professors: College professors, I find are very different than high school teachers. They classes are larger so professors don't get to know their students as well. Sometimes you'll have a professor who is a tough grader or expects a lot from their students but I have never had a professor who I thought was horrible. Because you are paying for education professors are more vocal about their opinions where in a publics school they're pretty neutral, but other than that professors are just like regular teachers. I'm in 6 classes and they're all large lectures and only one knows my name. The other ones I go to class and participate and take notes and leave, pretty simple. I wouldn't stress about this too much until you really get a horrible professor.
Not Getting Bored of Your Major: At least 50% of college kids change their major at least once. I know it seems like a high number but our hopes and dreams change as we figure out who we are so it's okay to get bored of your major and change along the way. I do say, if you think you might get bored be a little proactive and do some research ahead of time. The key is to find a major that suits you without wasting money, or having to stay an extra semester. I fell right into the 50% that changed their major and that's totally okay! A way to keep your major exciting is to continually be learning as much as you can about it. Take extra curricular on it, have an internship in your field of study, anything to keep yourself expanding your knowledge on your major. If you want to increase your knowledge take up a minor, that's typically 6-8 credits and can be integrated throughout your four years.
Social Related Worries
Being Far From Family: This was one of my big worries when I was a freshman. I felt like I was ready to leave home and go to college but, at the same time I love being around my family which made leading a little tougher. When you first get school don't rely on going home a lot. You need to adjust to college life and living on your own. I would maybe take one trip home if you are homesick somewhere between move in and Thanksgiving Break. Rely on Facetimes and phone calls but just know that you might move away from your family across the country for a job and you need this transition time to help get used to independence and adulthood.
Finding a Place to Live: Finding an apartment seems like this huge question mark. At JMU almost everyone except freshman live off campus. If not they live in the sorority houses. My biggest advice would be to start early. Most campuses have an off campus housing fair where all student housing apartment complexes give out their information to students. If you're nervous about where to even begin, start there. You need to know the monthly rent, how many months the lease is, how much utilities will be (roughly), what parking is like, will you need the bus to pick you up, and who your roommates will be. Just start early.
Finding Your Husband/Wife: I real fear but I will say, college it to get your degree not your MRS. Focus on school, if you meet someone than that's incredible but don't have your main priority to be finding your husband. Also, don't feel like you have to be dating someone in college. Its fun if you are but most people in college are single and figuring their lives out. You're in such a stage of limbo that adding another factor to the equation can be a lot to handle. I honestly suggest figuring yourself and your future out before adding a BF to your plate. If you feel like you're in a position to start dating, than go for it. Have your friends introduce you to there friends, go out of your way to talk to someone new, ask someone to lunch on campus, ask him to your date function. Go with your gut and have fun.
Not Getting Into a Sorority: Worse case scenario you want to be in a sorority and you don't get a bid, there are a few options for you. If you are really dead set on being in a greek organization, go through COR (continuous open recruitment) after formal recruitment and try again or reapply for recruitment the following year. If you don't get into one though, just know that being a part of a sorority is not the end all be all of college, and that's coming from a sorority girl. Being in a sorority is great but it's just another club or organization in the grand scheme of things. Look beyond greek life if that path doesn't work itself out. Try a club sport, an academic fraternity (open to women too!) or other clubs. Maybe become a tour guide for your school, get a part time job, or join a service group. There are so many other things to college rather than a sorority.
That was the worst case scenario, truthfully almost everyone who goes through recruitment will get a bid. That being if you do everything you can to get a bid like being chatty, participating in recruitment activities, and kind to the sisters. I think a lot of people who don't get into sororities didn't treat the recruitment process the way it should or disrespected the Panhellenic community as a whole while on the row.
Being Around Drunk People: You can't really avoid the drunk college atmosphere sometimes. If you are going to live in a dorm, even if you don't drink alcohol your hall mates will and they'll come home drunk and be obnoxious and loud at 2am. It will happen, there's really no way around that. To avoid contact with them when they're drunk, just lock your door. If you are nervous about going to parties and being around belligerent people, the best thing to do is be responsible yourself and go out to parties in groups with your friends. There is power in numbers, especially if you're a female. This post is explicitly about getting drunk, being drunk, being around drunk people, and handling yourself in situations where people are intoxicated. Give this a read if you want more information about dealing with drunkenness in college.
Having FOMO: We all have times where our friends go out and we choose to stay in or have other obligations that prevent us from having fun. If you get a serious case of FOMO just remember, there are two nights in a weekend ( & a third if you count Thursdays!). Also remember that sometimes we all need days where we just need to chill. If you had a stressful week of studying kick back, order a pizza, and just take a breather. Go to bed early, do a facemask. FOMO only lasts one night.
Finding a Job
Finding a Job That Makes You Happy: Once you reach junior and senior year you have to start thinking about jobs if grad school isn't in your future. The best way to find a job that makes you happy is again to start early. As a junior, go to job fairs help on campus and begin emailing people. I would suggest setting up a LinkedIn account. Just do as much research as you can about a company. When it comes to finding a job that makes you happy, odds are that the first job you have out of school won't be your "dream job". You will either have to work your way up in a company or save up to move somewhere new or apply somewhere else. The best thing to do in times like this is set goals for yourself. Think about where you what to be in two years, five years, and even 10 years. Do you want to own your own company? Do you want to move to NYC and work in fashion? Do you want to join the marines? Set goals to help yourself reach these dreams that will make you feel fulfilled.
Applying to Jobs In General: Same rule applies as above. Start early when you are applying for jobs. It is a frenzy come January for jobs so the sooner you can get you application in the better. Also be proactive, contact that company and express your eagerness for the job. I share all of my tips for jobs and job interviews here if you're looking for more information.
Did I miss anything? Let me know in comments below!