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Struggles of Being a College Student (And How to Avoid Them)

1. Good grades, sufficient sleep, a social life: you can’t have all 3. Most college students would be lucky to achieve just two of these. There’s only 24 hours in a day, in which you’ll have to constantly juggle between hanging out with friends, studying and getting enough sleep. In college, getting 6 hours of sleep every night sounds like a dream; who needs 8 hours anyway? You’ll have moments where all you want to do is sleep, yet your friends want to go out, and you have an important assignment’s deadline creeping up. Advice: Learn to effectively manage your time: prioritize your goals and always plan ahead. At the end of the day, you’re going to have to sacrifice one thing to achieve another, so just ask yourself “what would be better for me in the long run?”. If you have an assignment due tomorrow, you’d be better off staying in the library and getting it done than going out partying and leaving it to the last minute. 2. You can barely afford anything. In college, you reach a whole new level of poor. As a result of gym memberships, textbooks, nights out, and club/society memberships, you'll realize that the words "I'm so broke" become synonymous with college life. Checking your wallet and seeing more than $20 is a blessing. And if you're a college student in the UK, you're going to be living on £3 Tesco meal deals and pesto pasta. Advice: Making your own meals with low-budget recipes online will save you unnecessary costs every week. Take advantage of student discounts. From the Apple Store, to ASOS, to McDonald’s; all you have to do is show your student card, or sign up for digital apps such as UniDays. Getting a part-time job is a great way to earn some extra cash and ease off some financial stress. There are so many opportunities for college students which work around your class schedule, such as tutoring or finding a part-time job on campus. And last but not least, limit your spending and set yourself a realistic weekly budget; keeping cash on you instead of carrying around your credit or debit card can be an effective way of managing your spending. 3. Making life decisions by yourself. This might have been one of the things you looked forward to the most - the freedom tomake your own decisions and not have anyone there to tell you what to do. But in college, whether you like it or not, you have to make choices for your future self, and some decisions may have serious consequences. In college, when it comes to planning ahead, managing money, dealing with academic or personal issues, you are the only judge and you have to deal with the consequences of your decisions. Advice: Be self-reflective and be aware of what you want. The best way to make a decision is knowing exactly what your goals are and what you want for your future self. When you’re confronted with a difficult decision, ask for advice from friends and family, because even though you hold the power to making the decisions, it’s always helpful to gain an outsider’s perspective. But most importantly, as cliché as it may sound, you haveto listen to your gut. Whether you believe it or not, your subconscious mind likely already knows what’s best for you. Don’t ignore your instincts just because you don’t want to face the reality of the choice you have to make. 4. Sleeping in a different time zone. Many college students sleep in such irregular patterns that they can be in a completely different time zone. Waking up in the morning and contemplating going to class is a daily struggle for most college students. You wake up to an alarm, hit the snooze button,quickly calculate your attendance for that module, then contemplate whether to go to class or fall back asleep. It's moments like this that make you question whether you actually need your degree. If you have an assignment due soon, you’re probably runningmore on caffeine than actual sleep; you might even get to a point where coffee no longer prevails and energy drinks are no longer an efficient way of keeping yourself awake. You’ll likely have days where your hands are shaking but you can’t tell whether it’s coffee high or if you’re nervous for your test. College is where your caffeine addictioncan genuinely become a cause for concern. Advice: Cut down on caffeine. Caffeine abuse is a serious problem that actually causes fatigue, nausea and irritability and rebound fatigue when the caffeine wears off. Feedingyourself more caffeine than actual sleep has dangerous side effects such as anxiety and insomnia, making it more difficult to get restorative sleep. Instead, try waking up an hour early everyday so your body doesn’t suffer from the “shock” of being woken up at an unusual time. 5. Getting sick and not having anyone to take care of you. Everything hurts and you physically can’t get out of bed - there’s nothing you miss more than the comfort of your own home. In college, no one will be there to feed you medicine or make you chicken soup. Tough it up and hope that your immune system is strong enough to quickly fight off the pathogens. Prepare yourself. 'Fresher’s flu' is a thing, and it’s horrible. If you never get it, then you're very, very lucky. Advice: No matter how much exercise you do or vegetables you eat, never falling ill is humanly impossible, especially in college. There’s no way to avoid it, but you can prepare for this moment to come, your future self will thank you. Stock up on cold & flu medicine, cough drops and Lemsip, easy-to-prepare food, packet soups are a handy standby, and don’t forget tissues (you’ll need lots of that!). 6. Pressure, stress and frustration sum up the amount of work you have to do. When there’s just too much to do in too little time: presentations, exams, coursework essays, and dissertations; the size of the workload in college will, at times, make you feeloverwhelmed and burnt out. The transition from high school to college can be a major shock due to the amount of work and higher academic expectations, and without effective study or leaning habits, this can cause major pressure and stress. Advice: Create a plan for all of your weekly commitments and tasks. By making a schedule and allocating time to get things done, you will feel less overwhelmed and stressed. Planners are a great way to manage your workload and you’re less likely to be blindsided by an assignment deadline or a presentation date. Planning ahead and making study plans will help you produce quality work and meet all the deadlines.

7. Going to lectures just to keep your attendance record up. In your 3-4 years at college, you will encounter at least one professor that you can't understand, or don’t learn anything from. You end up teaching yourself the entire course material, doing your own research and just hoping for the best. Advice: Attend these lectures and make notes from PowerPoints. Even if you find the class extremely boring, make sure you still pay attention because one slight lapse in concentration can result in missing vital information; you never know when the professor will tell you an exam tip or extra credit assignments. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions or speak to the professor after class, because there’s nothing worse than reaching the end of the semester and not having any idea on what’s been taught. 8. Procrastination is an ever-present problem. Procrastination is the worst. You know how much you need to study but still subconsciously look for every possible excuse to avoid it. When you have an assignmentdue next week, suddenly vacuuming the floor becomes your #1 priority. When you have an exam coming up, tidying your room or organizing your mailbox are the only things onyour mind. But the real struggle is when you’ve motivated yourself to work in the library,but you end up eating, and watching YouTube more than you actually study. You find everything interesting, except for what you actually came to do. Advice: Reassess your goals and make them realistic. Even if you have competing priorities, such as having two deadlines in one day, don’t set yourself unrealistically high expectations. This will not only make you unproductive, but stress you out. Some assignments can be daunting and seem never-ending, but breaking down your tasks and working your way through them gives you a sense of accomplishment and helps spur you along. Also make sure you reward yourself after achieving each goal, and makesure to take scheduled breaks along the way, to prevent your mind from wandering. 9. Having a hard time remembering people's names/faces, or both. In college, you will meet people everywhere you go: in lectures, seminars, societies, around campus, at pre-drinks; it’s impossible to remember everyone’s faces, names, where they’re from and what they study (unless you have a photographic memory). As time goes on, you will feel more and more embarrassed to ask for their name and before you know it it’s the end of the semester and you still have absolutely no idea what they study or where they’re from, which can come across as rude. Advice: To get a better memory, you have to practice it. Just like you work out to train your body to run faster or be stronger, you have to train your memory to remember things. When someone introduces themselves, repeat their names silently to yourself, or say it out loud back to them to make sure you heard them correctly; using their names immediately helps you remember as repetition helps engrave it in your memory. To remember faces, try to make an association between their face and an image the name suggests. 10. Questioning your degree or subject. Throughout your time in college, you’ll probably question yourself at least once why you've chosen your degree course. Do I actually enjoy it? How useful will it be? What will my future look like? Sometimes other people’s courses seem more interesting than yours. Advice: As the work piles up and course content gets more complicated and difficult, you’re bound to question your choice of degree. Some modules are optional whilst others are compulsory, and sorry to break it to you, but no matter how much you loved this subject before going to college, you’re not going to like every class you take, as therewill be some areas you find more interesting than others. Remember though, you chose your course for a reason. If you have a career goal, ask yourself if what you’re doing nowwill help you reach that goal, and if not, then maybe it’s time to change. 11. Word count becomes your biggest enemy. Too many or too few words? Maybe back in high school (or Sixth Form) the struggle was not having enough to say about a topic and needing to ramble to meet the word count. The real struggle at college is exceeding the word count and still not having fully expressed your points. There is nothing more frustrating when you’re 200 words over the word count and trying to decide what is worth deleting, because let’s face it, you don’t really want to delete any of that work. Advice: Make a detailed essay plan and stick to it. Without planning all of the points you want to make in your essay, you’ll most likely end up rambling and drifting away from the topic. Some universities actually calculate footnotes towards your word count, so learn to reference intelligently. Instead of using footnotes, try using in-text referencing for more concise writing and reduce word counts.

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