When going to college, students no doubt thought of only studies as the problem they’d face. Soon they found themselves embroiled in others up to their necks. After looking at 10 common problems students face in university, we will show a common solution for them all.
What are the 10 common problems of students?
The 10 common issues that students at a college or university face are time management, debt, trying to chew too much, stress and depression, independence, health, relationships, academic decisions, academic performance, and finding a job.
A look at each of the 10 Common Problems College Students Face
Let’s take a look at them individually.
It doesn’t take long at school before students find themselves stressing about the amount of time they have in the day to apportion for academic work, extracurricular activities, and a fulfilling social life.
The problem might not really be a lack of time but its management.
How to manage your time, to get what you want out of life
“Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have and only you can determine how it will be spent,” Carl Sandberg, great American author.
When you feel like there are less than 24 hours in the day, or that you’d need more than 24 hours in a day, one solution is to begin to exercise.
A yoga class or a short leisurely walk through nature will bring it forcefully to you that you should always be your first priority.
For you’d experience a strange clarity, feel motivated to work and be really productive.
I’m an English professor in vocational training schools in Togo, a French-speaking country on the West African coast. French is of course my students’ second language. English is the third. Although they’ve been learning it from the seventh grade, you’d find most of them incapable of expressing themselves in English whether in the first, second, or even the third years at the university.
This makes grading their work, especially essays and letter writing, a grueling exercise.
Anytime I feel befuddled, I leave the work and listen to soft smooth jazz, or go out for a walk, or go to converse with a friend with whom I share common views on many social, political, and economic issues.
When I come back home a couple of hours later, the work which had threatened to make me crazy goes smoothly.
I often teach my students to manage their time by having a private or personal timetable where they program when to read over the lessons of the day and to revise the following day’s. They also factor in rest periods for food, television, etc.
Revision means coming back to something you have already seen. That’s why a student must read over the day’s work. Doing that also fixes it in your subconscious mind. It then becomes easier to retain the next time you revisit, or revise, it.
And revising the last lecture of the following day’s courses will enable you understand the following day’s better as there is a logical sequence in what professors do.
Try the experience of a “productive day”
You’ve never heard of this?
One definition of a “productive day” is this:
At the end of the day, you can see, feel and know that you have accomplished and achieved something.
Just try what I am going to say about a productive day for a month. You may be astonished at how you feel about yourself and your life.
The secret to having a productive day was suggested by consultant Ivy Lee to Charles Schwab, the top executive running Andrew Carnegie’s steel mills during the American Industrial Revolution.
Mr. Schwab had consulted Mr. Lee to help him improve productivity in the mills and in his personal life.
Here is Ivy’s simple idea which produced an incredible result, making Charles to pay him $25.000. A huge sum in those days.
Each night, Charles was to write down a list of the ten most important things he wanted done the next day, in order of their importance.
Then he should force himself to get the first one done, check it off, before moving on to the next one, up to the end.
Trying to chew too much
Student problems start right in the first year of college.
Therefore you must not waste any time when you step on campus.
For you to have a successful career, you must be fully prepared for it not only through education but also special training.
But the problem with students in colleges and universities is that they do not seek the right guidance on the career they must pursue and for which they’re best suited.
Right from the first year, they may be nursing the ambition of becoming this or that, but lack of proper guidance may not make them choose the right subject combinations. Before they realize their mistake, it is often too late.
It is in view of the above scenario that you must meet with a student support advisor to help you make your academic decisions.
This person, who is an educationist and coordinator concerned with the whole individual and the educational process, will help you do things like:
- select the most beneficial courses
- enhance your writing skills
- prepare for your career post-graduation, and
- track your academic progress throughout the degree.
With your advisor’s counseling, you will be able to harmonize the necessary social life during college with your academic work.
Otherwise you may find yourself biting off more than you can chew. And, as we all know, too much of everything is bad.
Stress and Depression
Leaving grade school for college is like going into an unknown territory. That is always stressful. And no one is immune to it.
The effective management of your studies and all that centers around them starts with your ability to have a clear image of your working environment, even before you head for college or start your online program.
You should begin by knowing what is awaiting you. You should have an accurate description of the studies you are going to do. What are the tasks to be performed? How will you be valuated? How often? What is the physical and social environment in which the studies will be done? What can you do at the end of a stressful period for less than an hour that will relieve you? Who can lend you a sympathetic ear (empathize with you) when you are under stress?
These will help you develop mechanisms to cope with the stress of your workload and deadlines.
In any case, when you feel that the pressure to achieve as a student is too much to bear, don’t let it crush you. You can always improve what you didn’t do right. But in any case, your GPA is only one factor recruiters take into consideration when sizing you up for employment.
It is normal for students at college to feel homesick. Even frequent travelers do.
Remember we are social beings. So when you find yourself longing for home, talk to friends and peers about it. People are not naturally callous. You might be surprised at the sympathy they will pour on you and especially by the fact that you’re not the only one feeling that way.
You’d think this problem doesn’t concern students earning their degrees online. But it does. Their problem is how to find ways to free themselves from the isolation of learning from home and making some human contact.
Study from a café. But if you find it too noisy or distracting, then choose a local library.
Variety is the spice of life.
“Just by changing your routine and your regular study environment, students can significantly increase their motivation and productivity,” says my favorite site for student matters.
Going out for a moment, lying still and emptying your mind of all thoughts, listening to classical music, sharing thoughts with a peer, going out with friends on the weekends, etc. might relieve you of academic stress.
But that might not be enough for you to be in excellent health.
Taking a break every few weekends to stay in and watch a movie, go to a party (be careful not to drink too much or worse, indulge in drugs or sexual orgies), go to the gym, help with your favorite local charity, or read a book unrelated to your course material can all help.
What about the student who spends most of their time in the library during the week?
Profit during the weekend to catch up on time for yourself.
At home you might have fallen into the eating and sleeping patterns set by the parents or guardians. The freedom of being at college or university and/or the pressure of student work may have upset these.
That’s not good for your health. Try to reset your healthy eating and sleeping patterns.
Remember, you need to stay healthy to be able to attend lectures and do your assignments.
At college, most of your relationships will be with other students and your professors.
I teach a course on how to obtain a job after university for urban management students at the end of their career path. One of the ways we talk about for finding a job is to scour the hidden job market. One of the elements of that market is their classmates. So I advise them to knit close bonds between them while at school. Who knows who may save whom tomorrow?
Your college mates will be a part of your life years after graduation. So you must invest time to build relationships with them.
An African proverb says that you cannot leave calabashes on a pan of water without them knocking into each other. But that doesn’t make them break each other. (I added this last one! But that is the lesson meant)
The same goes for you and your classmates and especially, roommate. If you are having issues with them, find time to sit down together and iron out your differences. Don’t let the problem simmer down and turn sour. There’s nothing which cannot be settled with a frank dialogue. And there’s nothing which can destroy your relationships like a problem left lingering.
Concerning your professors, they will be more than happy when you corner them for a face-to-face discussion at the end of class to clarify a material discussed in class that you did not fully understand.
I have experienced this myself several times in my career.
I remember two of them vividly.
During the school year, one of my students confessed she had difficulty understanding questions in English let alone answer them.
I told her to copy all the questions and answers we dealt with in the Language Laboratory, then read them at home. “The logic of the thing will come naturally to you.”
After just three sessions, she improved to such an extent that she didn’t need me anymore.
The other student had flunked the high school diploma twice. The problem was always English. Her uncle asked me to organize a private lesson for her.
I asked her to list areas where she needed help.
It was mainly grammar, essay and letter writing, the challenges Togolese students usually face in English in high school.
We meet at the uncle’s plush residence in the evenings.
“Sir, is reported speech so simple?” she said after the very first lesson, a proud smile across her face.
“I have always been telling you people that in class,” I said. “How come you weren’t understanding it before?”
“I think it was the effect of the class.”
“Why didn’t you ask questions when you didn’t understand it?”
“I was afraid to be mocked at.”
It is a common problem in Togo where making a mistake in French and English is almost like a taboo.
The crux of the matter?
Let professors help you achieve academic excellence.
Students often concentrate more on their chosen degree or major as they see it as being what will greatly shape the general course of their careers. What they tend to forget however is that setting goals and even modifying them is even more crucial for their success down the road.
How to manage your time and progress in life
Setting goals will help you live your life differently and get more value out of it. For without goals, you’re like a boat without a rudder. The wind will blow it in all directions. Goal-setting is like fixing a rudder on that boat. It can now be sailed to a destination.
How goals work for you
When you begin to set goals, you focus first your thinking, then your resources, and finally your actions. Short, you set yourself on the path to maximum performance in your life.
How to invest your time with goals
You’ve no doubt heard of “spending time” but what about “investing time”?
Does that sound strange to you?
Not surprising if it does. Since all your life, time has been managed for you. You yourself have not had much control over it.
The number of hours you spent in school was not optional. You had to spend some time around the table for meals. The time you spend at church, the mosque, in the synagogue was not voluntary. There is a certain time to sleep. A certain time to relax, and so on.
Adding all that time up may leave you some 5 or 6 hours a day for yourself. That’s what you can call “Your time”.
You’d think people would manage this time “your time” profitably. But no. They just “spend” it or even let others “coerce” them do so.
But if you set goals that force you to invest your time on things useful in your life now and in the future, you’d be heading somewhere worthwhile.
After you graduate, your potential employer would be more interested in your proven academic and extra-curricular experiences. He would also like to know how they shaped you and contributed to the success of your career.
While in college, you should of course have an eye on your performance. That’s the main reason why you’re there. But understand that you’re not expected to be at the top of the GPA in every class. If you can, well and good. Otherwise you don’t have to kick yourself for that.
What professors want from students is that they show engagement with the course material as well display willingness to speak up and participate in class discussions.
When you try to earn more value from your tuition costs, you will fell less pressure to over-achieve.
Finding a Job
When should you start applying for a job?
Certainly not after you reach graduation but before it.
Go to your school’s counseling center and find someone to discuss your resume, internship experience, extra-curricular activities, and your academic achievements with.
You’d most probably get help to prepare for interviews and to adequately summarize your experiences as they relate to your future career goals. Remember we said your future employer will be interested in this?
Many young adults find that the student loans which enabled them to study become a huge debt problem, making them anxious.
Fortunately many ways exist which you can use to relieve the stress. The secret is to start addressing the problem earlier.
One of the ways is to get a part-time job. Another is to do work study related to your major. You can also apply for scholarships. But pay particular attention to the amount of time it will take to pay off a student loan. So you don’t find yourself saddled with repayments your whole adult life.
Now that we’ve seen the 10 college students’ problems, what can be the solutions?
What you can do about the problems you face at College
Changes in your sleeping and eating habits, social relationships, academic relationships and performance may all suggest a shift in your stress level for better or for worse.
If you are going to college for the first time, you should welcome support from your parents to solve your problems, but avoid counting on them entirely for that.
If you rely on your parents for solutions whenever a problem crops up, you may not develop the tools you need later in life to resolve problems on your own.
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t cooperate with them as much as possible to help them find the root cause of the issue.
If you’re already in college, you may be feeling the burden of financial debt and/or academic performance. But don’t let them prevent you from being happy during this crucial period.
Pay particular attention to changes you notice in your sleeping and eating patterns, social interactions, and academic work. Be a source of support to yourself.
You should also be your neighbor’s keeper.
Students don’t face the same problems in the areas of college life neither do they have the same resources to deal with them.
You may be approaching your difficulties better than the others. Or they may be dealing with their problems better than you. Chances are, a bit of friendly advice could go a long way in helping you or someone else be themselves again!
Should you try entrepreneurship?
While I would not say that money can solve all the 10 challenges faced by students in school, I hope you’ve heard the saying, “money is the sinews of war.”
This means money gives you the strength or framework of your struggle to solve life’s problems.
It is in this regard that I’m suggesting you consider entrepreneurship.
Surely you’re not oblivious to all the home-based business and entrepreneurship revolution going on all around you.
Bill Gates started Microsoft Corporation in his Harvard College dorm in the second year. Mark Zuckerberg began Facebook in his father’s garage. Many other successful entrepreneurs you see today started their booming businesses in unusual circumstances.
By starting your own business, from school (if you’re in college) or from home (if you’re studying online), in your spare time (so this doesn’t interfere with your studies), you not only create the opportunity to earn extra income but also to develop new and varied skills, build greater self-confidence and make useful contacts.
You may later find a way to grow your spare time business into a fully-fledged business you can run full-time. Just as Gates, Zuckerberg, and countless others have.
You’re not cut out to be an entrepreneur? How can you know if you don’t first explore this option?
“The way to uncover your own hidden talents and interests is simply to experiment. Instead of saying ‘That’s just the way I am,’ say ‘I’ll try that,’” How to Open the Door to your Future, The Official UCS Guide to Success In Life.
Another preoccupation of yours may be that you don’t have the time.
Go back to the top and read what we said about “Time Management” and, under it, “How to manage your time, to get what you want out of life”, especially that part about having a private or personal timetable. Check also the sections under “Academic decisions”.
You’d see that you can make the time for this.
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What if problems crop up? Isn’t that going to stress you further and impact your studies negatively?
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You can’t afford to pay?
I understand, you’re already stressed by student loans/debt.
But maybe you need to borrow, save money for it, put it on your credit card, or take out a loan for it, or even go look for work to pay.
Remember, this is not money you’re throwing away or down the drain. It is an investment. It will be money well spent. One on which there will be a return because money attracts money.
Don’t forget: if money is the root of all evil, lack of it is worse than evil itself.
Check here for our suggestion on how to overcome challenges in college.
What challenges have you overcome to attend college?
Let us know in the comments section below. This may help someone deal with problems students face in university. Thank for your contribution.
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