Stressed About College? Try These Proven Tips to Relax

Written by:

published on:

Updated on:


Note: Your support drives Find-A-Therapist. We earn a commission if you purchase services through our ads.

Looking for a therapist?

If you’re in college, you’re bound to get stressed. This might ultimately affect your wellbeing, academic performance and social life.

College is a new environment. Your new home is probably a dorm room. You meet new people and make new friends so it’s a totally new social scene.

Furthermore, there is no supervision, parental or otherwise, so there’s a great deal of increased responsibility and independence. All the pressure of juggling that, plus attending classes, studying, handing in term papers and assignments on time, all depend on you.

There’s no one to chase you around to make sure you’re doing what you’re supposed to do. No bell will ring to signal you, and your professors won’t repeatedly remind you about a term paper that’s due, or probably overdue.

All of these new circumstances compound and can cause a ton of stress for a college student.

So how can you manage all the stressors of college? How can you make it through 4+ years of all this and graduate with your sanity still intact?

In this article, we’ll break down some of the most common causes of stress and anxiety for university students, and what to do when you’re stressed about college:

Explore emotional well-being with BetterHelp – your partner in affordable online therapy. With 30,000+ licensed therapists and plans starting from only $65 per week, BetterHelp makes self-care accessible to all. Complete the questionnaire to match with the right therapist.

Note: We collaborate with top-tier mental health companies and receive advertising fees from purchases through the BetterHelp links.

How to deal with academic stress

The main point of you coming to college was to get an education. The life experience and memories are just the big jackpot bonus you get as part of the package deal.

Academics can be a major cause of stress for students in college. Especially for students on academic scholarships renewed on merit of academic performance, or those pursuing a scholarship for graduate school.

There will be a lot of pressure to maintain a certain GPA to ensure you retain your scholarship. Furthermore, ignoring term papers and assignment deadlines will have you drowning after repeatedly procrastinating.

Before you know it, it’s the day before a paper’s due and you resort to last minute options like paying off other students to do your assignments or at worst, plagiarism.

So how can you overcome academic stress?

You’re going to have to improve the way you study in college. Here are a couple of tips and tactics to try out.

Try breaking your studying up into batches. For instance, study a couple chapters, then take a break and quiz yourself on what you just went over. That way you can better retain the information.

Secondly, increase your efforts towards your weakest classes. If you’re a wiz in calculus, but struggle to grasp the basics of biology, it doesn’t make sense to dedicate the same amount of time to each subject. Focus more on the areas you need the most help in, so you feel more confident when you go in to take an exam or have to write a paper.

This third trick is probably the most effective for a lot of you. Reward yourself when you do well.

In grade school and high school, teachers would throw pizza parties or let the class watch movies to reward you for a job well done. Knowing you’d get that reward for your hard work motivated you to do well.

That doesn’t have to stop once you get into college!

Set goals for yourself and think of a way to reward yourself once you reach it. For instance, maybe you’ll treat yourself to a night out if you get a B or higher on your term paper.

Psychological research shows that there are certain responses that increase the probability of a behavior reoccurring. When you enjoy your rewards after great effort, it gives you an incentive to repeat such acts.

How to deal with the financial stress of college

Money is a huge source of stress for college students. There are so many financial issues for students to deal with.

  • Paying for tuition
  • Buying books
  • Paying for housing
  • Student loans
  • Buying food

And since college is usually the first taste of adulthood for you, the world of personal finance is probably completely foreign. As a result, you might find yourself surviving off credit cards, racking up debt and ruining your credit before you even turn 21.

And that just leads to more stress.

But it doesn’t have to be that way! Here are some tips to deal with the financial stress of college.

A good place to start is to get a part time job if you don’t have one yet. While working may mean you have less time for a social life, it’ll ease a lot of your day-to-day stress over money.

There are plenty of places you can find work. Here’s a list of some of the most high paying part-time jobs for college students. You could also look into work study programs available in your college.

Next, make sure you keep your grades up. It’ll give you the ability to apply for that financial aid and scholarships to reduce the amount you have to pay out of pocket. It’ll also mean less student debt once you graduate, which is a huge burden according to the stats in this infographic:

Another important financial move that’ll save you some stress is to save, save, save and minimize spending! Don’t splurge on buying the latest iPhone or a new pair of shoes that you probably can’t afford.

This is especially important if you know you’re footing all your bills and the check from that part time job isn’t coming in anytime soon. So save for your tuition, books and your part of the rent on that shared apartment.

Here’s the greatest tip I could give you though: when you’re eating out, order from the kid’s menu.

Get organized to avoid college stress

This must sound like the most ludicrous idea for a student. It’s college after all. You’ve been waiting years for this time. When you can let loose and not be bound to a routine schedule that was run by a bell.

You craved for the freedom that college would bring with running your own schedule. However, you probably overlooked the fact that the routine successfully packaged all the important activities like eating, sleeping and assignments. This ensured that everything had an allocated timeframe.

It will however, be extremely beneficial and reduce a great deal of stress for you, if you plan.

Planning will help you manage your time and balance all the activities you want to partake in.

Start by making a list of your assignments, term paper deadlines, upcoming tests and everything else you need to do for school. Then make notes for when you’ll have some free time in between all of that.

This will allow you to know when you’re free so you can plan for resting and social activities like fraternities, the movies and partying of course. Be extra cautious to avoid the last-minute hustle over deadlines, late term papers and penalties on late term papers that affect your GPA.

When you plan your activities, you have to take into consideration what you have to do versus what you want to do.

This will help you prioritize your schedule so you know where to go and what to do first, and save all the unnecessary stuff for later. Most importantly, you will have some time to yourself, personal time. Do your laundry, Skype with friends who went to other colleges across the country, go to the beauty salon or go watch a football game.

Better yet, get some well deserved rest and a real meal into you that’s not ramen noodles or fast food.

Here’s a video with some great organizational and planning tips for college students:

Stop Being Stressed About College

The four or so years you’re in college will be some of the best years of your life, or at least that’s what we are told. That, plus a directive to live well in college and to make a hoard of memories that will last a lifetime.

Stress could hinder you from achieving that ultimate college experience. Instead of letting all the stress of college eat away at you, try all the tips here to help reduce your stress so you can get the most from your college years.

And if the stress and anxiety of being a college student is too much for you, don’t be afraid to talk to someone or go see a college counselor on campus. Most colleges offer these services for free, and they can be a great resource to relieve some of the stress of being a college student.

Take the stress test!

Join the Find-a-therapist community and get access to our free stress assessment!

Additional Resources

Prioritizing our mental well-being is paramount in today’s fast-paced world. The digital age has redefined therapy and psychiatric care, making support more accessible than ever. To guide you towards a healthier state of mind, we’ve partnered with pioneering names in mental health.
Note: We collaborate with top-tier mental health companies and we earn a commission if you purchase services through our ads.

Online Therapy

Discover a path to emotional well-being with BetterHelp – your partner in convenient and affordable online therapy. With a vast network of 30,000+ licensed therapists, they’re committed to helping you find the one to support your needs. Take advantage of their Free Online Assessment, and connect with a therapist who truly understands you. Begin your journey today.

Relationship Counceling

Whether you’re facing communication challenges, trust issues, or simply seeking to strengthen your connection, ReGain’s experienced therapists are here to guide you and your partner toward a healthier, happier connection from the comfort of your own space. Get started.

Therapist Directory

Discover the perfect therapist who aligns with your goals and preferences, allowing you to take charge of your mental health. Whether you’re searching for a specialist based on your unique needs, experience level, insurance coverage, budget, or location, our user-friendly platform has you covered. Search here.

About the author

I'm an avid reader and love anything to do with mindfulness and mental health!

You might also be interested in


In some articles, we include products we think are useful for our readers. When you buy through these links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you.

Information on our website is for educational and informational purposes only. You should not rely on this information as a substitute, nor does it replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a mental healthcare professional.

Online Therapy, Your Way

Discover the ease of starting therapy with BetterHelp. Complete the assessment and connect with a licensed professional therapist online.
Note: We earn a commission if you purchase services through our ads.