You’ve been waiting for this great day for what seemed like eternity. But finally it did come and you’re going to college. What an exciting time!
Already you’re basking in the captivating campus environment, new peers to mingle with, great professors to interact with, new things to learn for your bright future, frequent hangouts and party sessions, taking your exams differently, taking holidays to common destinations, and so on.
Just as you’ve been made to believe college life is, right?
Not quite. Just come down a bit from your high pedestal. The reality may not be exactly as the TV shows have depicted college life.
It may even be unpleasant at times.
We aren’t either.
But mind you, our aim is not to douse your enthusiasm for college.
No, far from it.
We only want you to know that while college life can be what you fantasize about it, there will also be surprises and disappointments.
This is what we want to prepare you for.
That said, and without further ado, here are 11 of the common problems of students to expect and how to deal with them.
Especially, look for a big solution for all, or at least, some of these struggles, at the end.
There will be miles of walking to do
You’ve no doubt seen pictures of students, books hugged to their chests or clutched in their armpits, walking around campus. You thought that was fun because of the wide smiles which illuminated their faces.
What you had not envisioned are the endless goings and comings under the hot, scorching sun; in the cold, stormy rain; or through chilly, blinding snowstorm. And what about the numerous flight of stairs, especially to climb?
Sure, you had not imagined the sore feet, the painful blisters and the aching muscles.
Yes, college could make you depend a lot on your poor pair of legs, and only the owners know how tough it can be.
Can’t anything be done about it?
Of course, there are solutions for this problem college students face.
“First things first – get a pair of comfortable shoes,” says Chia Wei Choong in this post, “For ladies, avoid heels at all costs, unless it’s really
necessary. Having friends to walk with you can make your journey seem less of a torture too.”
Chia’s last piece of advice recalls an African proverb which goes thus: If you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, go with someone.
Another solution, if your campus is vast, is to use a bicycle.
What if you can’t afford one?
At the end of this article, we will show you a fun and easy way to have money on demand.
There will be difficulty to associate and acclimate
There are many first year college student problems. One of them is that you’ll come across lots of unfamiliar faces in college just as you do when you go to any new place for the first time.
Your high school and neighborhood buddies of course, are far away. This means you’ll be building your friendships from zero. Trying to break the ice and build bridges could seem unsurmountable.
While you’ll be sizing people up, they’ll be doing the same too. Your attempts to make conversation could be hampered by your wondering the appropriate things to say, and end up in awkward silences. Your problems become compounded if you don’t belong to the culture of the place.
What to do, you wonder.
If you try hard, you may fit in. If you don’t succeed, remember, there are plenty other people that you can mingle with.
Again, at the end of this piece, we will show you how to be part of a large supportive community. While it’s not exactly your college’s, it’s a starting ground, and we all know that half a loaf of bread is better than none.
There will be people who will give you hell
While people who like you will make you feel as if the campus was heaven on earth, others who take a dislike to you will make you taste hell on earth. The latter are the ones who will gossip, backstab, or treat you in ways that will leave you flabbergasted.
How to overcome such challenges in college?
Ignore them, taking cognizant of the fact that “A tough lesson in life is that not everybody wishes you well,” Dan Rather, TV News Person.
Yes, you must avoid your enemies simply because they’re really not worth your time. Why waste your valuable time with people who don’t wish you well when you can be better off spending it with those who can bring sunshine into your days?
There will come a time when you’ll wonder: to date or not to date?
Let’s say you’re now so snugly fit into campus life that hope is lending you wings and you’ve begun to have a crush on someone.
What can be more normal than that?
But you find yourself in a dilemma.
How do you cross the Rubicon and reveal your feeling to the other person? At the same time you’re debating whether to date or not to date.
How do you solve this one of three common issues that students at your college or university face?
Again, another African proverb says “If there’s a far town, there’ll still be another farther than it.”
What bearing does this have on your circumstance?
It simply means there’re people more experienced than you whom you can confide in for their objective opinions.
Two heads being better than one, perhaps they can help you make a better decision.
Remember, while love may not necessarily interfere with your studies, worries certainly will.
There will come times when you will wonder where (or, what) to eat
A student in a developed country has numerous places where to eat and diverse foods to choose from. Instead of being a boon, this is what places you in a paradoxical situation.
How can you handle this challenge faced by students in colleges?
Chai suggests to let a wheel decide for you. You list down all your food choices and follow the result. With time you will learn how to decide for yourself.
There will be times you will be busy scouting for the best deals
Almost everything you want to do in collegedemands money, and more and more of it. Books have become more expensive, prices of school supplies are on the rise, accommodation is pricier and pricier, food and groceries prices are skyrocketing, extracurricular activities attract fees. What, in your parents’ days, were free are now paid for.
What should you do about this problem college students face?
First, check what you’re spending money on and decide what to cut out as extraneous. For example, do you need those fancy shoes? Then scour the internet for freebies, discount sales and promotions. They will help you save money. Thirdly, spend wisely. Instead of going for a new phone, why don’t you invest in an online course for more knowledge and income?
More on this course at the end.
There will be struggle with morning class
I teach at vocational training schools where classes begin at 7.30 am at one and 8 am at the other. When students come to school late and I ask them why, they say, “Sir, it’s hard to get up in the morning.”
“Let me prove to you that’s not the case,” I say to their surprise. “When do classes start in High School?”
They smile with some embarrassment and say, “7 am.”
“Oh, sir!” the laughs on the other side of their faces widen, showing they are getting the picture.
“It’s not a question of ‘Oh, sir.’ Just answer the question.”
“And even day nursery?”
“Are you going that far?”
“Day nursery?” I insist.
“7 am, sir,” they mumble. By now their embarrassment is total.
“And even you had to be at assembly by 6.45.”
“Sir, we’re sorry,” they apologize for their lateness, but still continue to come to school late.
“Your problem is not difficulty in waking up in the morning,” I remind them, “neither traffic nor any of the spurious reasons you give, but laziness!”
All I wanted to show my students was how strange it was that they used to be able to wake up at 5 or 6 in the morning everyday when they were in high, junior, primary, and nursery schools but in college, getting up later can be such a chore for them.
The problem wasn’t really difficulty in getting up early but the freedom you found in college.
Another is that you’re entirely responsible for yourself now. And with no one behind you, pushing you, everything goes. What some students forget is that responsibility comes with a lot of obligations.
A last problem is that getting up in the morning becomes a hassle, especially for subjects that don’t interest you.
I teach English. While it’s a compulsory subject, it isn’t one of the students’ core subjects. So they could afford to skip it.
Is there a solution to this challenge college students face?
Yes, there is.
Learn to manage your time well.
At home, your parents were behind you, making sure you not only had enough sleep, but also that you did observe a fixed / regular sleeping schedule.
And now, with the increased workload, the freedom, and the rest, you seem like a ship without rudder.
Learn to discipline yourself and everything will be alright.
There will be coping with subjects you don’t fancy
In any course it happens that students sometimes find themselves with some subjects that I can qualify as their number one enemy. But the painful thing is all the subjects in a course contribute to your overall score at the end of the semester. Worse, they arecompulsory! Matters get out of hand if you don’t like the lecturer handling the subject.
What can you do about this common challenge facing students in college?
Help is what you need for these subjects. Plenty
of help and hard work.
I often advise my students to:
- form study groups where the best in each subject takes turns explaining things to them
- get notes and tips from seniors because they already know the subjects and the professors better (Do you know that you can even buy notes online?”
- do a lot of exercises from their lecture notes, with past year papers, and from the internet
As for the professor(s) that you’re averse to, “forget” them and concentrate on the subject.
There will be tussle with lethargy
Going to college, we said, is an exciting thing. But like with everything new, the exhilaration soon wears off. And that’s when boredom takes over.
That’s understandable, with the cycle of classes (especially if dull), assignments (above all, dreadful ones), and exams (some of them being headaches).
What’s the way out of this common problems of students?
Seize the bull by the horns. If everything in life was interesting, that would be boring too. Being that you can’t have everything your own way, do with what’s at hand.
Authorities know learning is not all fun, that’s why there are extracurricular activities to put some zest into students’ lives. So, look for activities that you may be keen on participating in.
What about practicing a hobby?
When I checked the Pan English dictionary, it said a hobby is: any activity which is done in one’s spare time for personal enjoyment.
This means a hobby is not going to interfere with your studies but above all it may be just what you’re looking for to banish your weariness.
Do you know that you can also take up an online course as a hobby? This even has the added advantage of earning you some income. Rendezvous at the end for this.
There will always be the feeling of not having enough time
If you let lethargy seize hold of you, you may find yourself running out of time to dedicate to your numerous activities.
But precisely time is what you need to shuffle and shuttle among club activities, a part-time job, friends and family, classes, assignments and projects, exams, and sleep.
Overwhelmed, you feel like 24 hours a day was not enough for you.
The way out of this frequent students’ challenge?
The fact is that you can’t fit any more than 24 hours into a day. Not even a single second. But you can prioritise your time.
How to manage your time
Time management is so important that I want to devote some time to it.
At 6 am, 12 pm seems so far away as a date you’re looking forward to in a week. At noon, you wonder how 6 hours slipped away so fast. At 6 pm, you begin to see how you’re squandering time. At bedtime, you wondered what happened to all those hours in the day.
The secret to spending your time differently and getting what you want out of the day is “goal-setting.”
“Getting involved in goal-setting first forces you to focus first forces you to focus your thinking, then your resources, finally your actions,” How to Open the Door to Your Future, The Official ICS Guide to Succeed in Life.
Do you know that you can “invest” your time?
If you don’t, it’s because all your life much of your time has been managed on your behalf. In fact, you didn’t have the possibility to control it.
You had to wake up at a certain time and go to school at a precise time and stay there for a given number of hours. Time for breakfast, brunch, lunch, tea, and supper is set by society, even if the precise moments vary a little. You had to go to bed at a certain time. Beyond that you had your parents knocking at your door and telling you what moment it was.
Still when you subtract all that time from 24 hours, you had some hours left for yourself. That’s what you can call “my time”.
How many of us use this time wisely so that we can point to something worthwhile we did with it?
Few, if any at all.
“Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful, lest you let other people spend it for you,” Carl Sandburg, Great American Author.
“If you casually let others spend all YOUR TIME for you, on impulse, haphazardly, you will probably find yourself disappointed with your progress in life” How to Open the Door to Your Future, The Official ICS Guide to Succeed in Life.
Also, if you casually spend all YOUR TIME, on impulse, haphazardly, you will probably find yourself disappointed with your progress in life.
While if you set goals, you’ll find ways to “invest” your time to achieving them.
A way to set simple daily goals is to have what is called a “productive day”.
It’s the day at the end of which you’ll have something tangible to show for it.
This idea was exemplified by a consultant named Ivy Lee.
During the American Industrial Revolution, Charles Schwab, the top executive running Andrew Carnegie’s steel mills was looking for ways to increase productivity in his own life and in the mills.
Ivy told Charles to make a list each night of the ten most important things he would do the following day, in order of their importance.
Then he should seek to do the first thing on the list before moving to the next one, ticking off each item as he did them.
Just a month after trying this, a satisfied Charles Schwab sent Ivy Lee a check for $25,000. A huge amount at that time.
Why don’t you try this for a month controlling the amount of commitments you get yourself into and congratulate yourself later?
There will be times when you will have to handle mental health issues
Mental illness include symptoms that can have an effect on a person’s thinking, perceptions, mood or behaviour. This disorder can make it difficult for people to cope with work, relationships and other demands.
This is why mental illness can interfere with learning, especially if those affected by it are not taken care of through appropriate means.
Aside from managing the other pressures of college mentioned above, students having psychiatric disabilities often have to deal with quite a number of additional frustrations, distractions, and debilitating symptoms which can impact their college success.
This is why mental illness can be an extra consideration in attending college. In fact, mental disorders constitute a serious issue plaguing today’s college campuses.
Some of the common mental illnesses seen on college campuses are:
- Addiction and Substance Use Disorders
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder(ADHD)
- Anxiety Disorders
- Bipolar (affective) Disorder
- Dissociation and dissociative disorders
- Eating Disorders
- Obsessive compulsive disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Sleeping Issues and Disorders
Addiction and Substance Use Disorders
Are caused by overdependence on drugs like Xanax and Valium and other substances like alcohol. These make students cause harm to themselves and to those around them.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
ADHD is characterized by differences in brain development and activity that can affect how a person behaves.
Include generalised anxiety disorders, social phobias, specific phobias (such as agoraphobia and claustrophobia), panic disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and post-traumatic stress disorder.
People with bipolar disorder (formerly called manic-depressive disorder) experience dramatic shifts in their mood, energy levels, and ability to even face the outside world. In other words, they may go through episodes of mania (elation) and depression.
It is a mood disorder characterised by lowering of mood, loss of interest and enjoyment, and reduced energy. That’s why depression creates feelings of sadness, loneliness, and the inability to go about life.
Dissociation and dissociative disorders
In dissociation, a person disconnects from their thoughts, feelings, memories or sense of identity. Examples of dissociative disorders are dissociative amnesia, dissociative fugue, depersonalisation disorder and dissociative identity disorder.
Eating disorders come from distorted perceptions of body image coupled with obsessive behavior in connection with food. A few of the factors underlying its development include irregular hormones, genetics, body dysmorphia, peer pressure, stress, trauma, anorexia, and bulimia nervosa.
Obsessive compulsive disorder
Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder. Recurrent thoughts, images or impulses that are intrusive and unwanted are what cause obsessions. Compulsions are time-consuming and distressing repetitive rituals.
Paranoia is the irrational and persistent feeling that one is being persecuted, that people are ‘out to get you’. It may be a symptom of conditions such as paranoid personality disorder, delusional (paranoid) disorder and schizophrenia.
Post-traumatic stress disorder
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a development of a response by people who have gone through any traumatic event. This may include a car or other serious accident, physical or sexual assault, war-related events or torture, or natural disasters such as bushfires, earthquakes, and tornadoes.
This makes people to experience delusions, hallucinations and confused thinking. A number of mental illnesses, including drug-induced psychosis, schizophrenia and mood disorders, can be the cause if psychosis.
Common forms of self-injury include cutting, burning, or even mutilating the surface of the body. Events causing self-injury can be an inability to deal with psychological pain in healthy ways, or having trouble regulating and expressing emotions.
Sleeping Issues and Disorders
This is any type of disorder that makes it hard for an individual to fall asleep or to stay asleep for a sufficient amount of time.
This is characterised by disruptions to thinking and emotions, and a distorted perception of reality. Symptoms may include hallucinations, delusions, cognitive issues, lack of motivation, thought disorder, social withdrawal, impaired thinking and memory.
People affected by schizophrenia have a high risk of suicide.
Individuals going through depression or bipolar disorder can end up with intense feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, and sadness, making them wish to end their lives.
So, what can you do if you’re suffering from any of these mental illnesses?
This is the maybe biggest problem students face today.
Fortunately today’s campuses provide mental health services with psychiatrists and counselors. They also create environments that are conducive to help students cope with mental problems. Some nonprofit organizations are also starting to develop campus chapters.
Avail yourself of your school’s services
There are many places, including online, where you can learn more about what cause you the lack of order and how you can come to terms with them. If you need help, do not hesitate at all to reach out. Talking to a close relative, a friend, or your school can bring relief.
Know your rights
Seeking help from your college through the Office of Disability Services. is more important because any secondary or postsecondary institution that receives public funding is under obligation to provide reasonable accommodations.
Types of accommodations
A number of accommodations are available to help students suffering from psychiatric disabilities. Some of them include:
- Additional breaks: They do good to students who have difficulty focusing or who go through extreme drowsiness when they could come and go during the class session.
- Completing work at home: People for whom coming to class seems too overwhelming, professors may send them materials, so they can use them to complete assignments without necessarily having to attend the lecture.
- Deadline extensions: Students going through depression, insomnia, high anxiety, etc. may not be able to turn in an assignment by the due date. After they regain their health, professors can then give them extra time to complete the assignment.
- Preferred seating: Allows students to sit where they found it the most comfortable for them, such as near an exit. This enables them to slip out if the need arises.
- Separate exam rooms: Students who experience test anxiety, panic attacks, or other disabilities that make them particularly stressful during exam day, can have a separate, quiet room.
- Use of tape recorder: Can be allowed for students with ADHD, narcolepsy, or other disabilities that make it difficult for them to stay focused to record the lecture and listen to it at their convenience.
- Written exams and presentations: Students experiencing anxiety or panic disorder can be allowed to submit an assignment in writing instead of giving an oral exam or presentation.
Steps to getting an accommodation
Although the process differs slightly from one college to the other, but generally this is what you may have to do:
- Determine who to speak to: Many colleges have offices of disability services, but you can also contact the campus health center or speak with a college mental health counselor.
- Fill out an application: You can do it online and submit it to the appropriate quarters.
- Provide documentation: You can submit paperwork from your doctor or a psychiatrist/psychologist/counselor that formally documents your psychiatric disability.
- Schedule an appointment: When your application is approved, you may need to meet with a representative from the office to discuss the appropriate accommodations for you. If your accommodation isn’t approved, don’t leave it at that. Discuss the issue further to explore alternatives or even appeal the decision.
Wrapping things up
The excitement of college life may be dampened by all the walking on campus, difficulty to get acclimatized, and dislike from some people. Others are, wondering whether to date or not and where (or, what) to eat, and time scouting for the best deals. Finally, struggle with morning class, coping with boring subjects, tussle with lethargy, lack of time, and mental health issues.
Although challenging, these are just some of the many difficulties you may face in college. But whatever your struggles are, know that there is a solution for each. Practice the solutions proposed and, as Bob Marley sang, “everything’s gonna be alright”.
Here is the All-Encompassing Solution we promised you
Although dubbed as all-encompassing, the solution we’re going to propose will properly suit only challenges requiring money.
Walking on campus will need special shoes which must be bought, taking your date out and eating out will call for money, and although you’re scouting for the best deals, you will still need money to buy them.
Although money isn’t everything, lack of it is something.
How do you get extra money without putting more strain on anybody’s wallet?
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Check here for our quick suggestion on how to overcome challenges in college.
Join the conversation
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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