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Help for the Overwhelmed During the First Year of College

written by: Tia Ahmed•edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom•updated: 7/28/2010

Having an overwhelmed first year of college? Understand some common college life behaviors that are normal, but can be destructive to college work. Also, learn to manage stress and time in order to combat future stressful situations.

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    Why We become Overwhelmed

    Are you feeling overwhelmed? First year of college students often feel anxiety and stress. Procrastination is typically the reason for all these distressing situations and is also considered to be one of most easily avoidable and controllable things while in college. There can be many reasons for procrastinating, which is fairly normal and as humans we all need a break every now and then. The most usual cause is freedom, there is no one in college, other than your roommate, to tell you when to work on your homework. Some students have personality traits that are more favorable during college, such as high conscientiousness, but this article will focus on those without such traits.

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    Resources on Campus

    Many colleges have tutoring services and workshops for first year students. It is so common to have an overwhelmed first year of college that some colleges to even have classes on dealing with stress and time management. Some of the most useful classes may be physical in nature, such as yoga and general conditioning classes. Exercise is difficult to do if students are working on last minute assignments since they may be procrastinating throughout the week and weekend.

    College counselors are also very useful when it comes to managing stress. They are trained especially to deal with academic related stress and can give great advice to what methods have benefited past students. Students who do not have free college counseling options should look outside of campus for alternatives, such as online group forums for college students. Outside resources are questionable and may be expensive, such as self help courses and books. Since stress management is common, there are many books published on the topic, but many are said to not be proven techniques.

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    Time and Stress Management Techniques

    When one manages time, one manages stress; unless the stress is caused by something that a person has little control over, such as a car accident, then there is not much one can do. Time management involves scheduling and a strict sense of discipline. Effective time management techniques require a reward system, after all why would anyone continue to change their habits without being properly rewarded?

    One of the most basic techniques is to create a time management worksheet. This type of worksheet should detail your class schedule, eating schedule, and sleep schedule. You may also use this worksheet to plan your meals, which may help decrease midnight snacking and help control your weight and reduce loss of sleep.

    Since last minute workers will fail at working ahead, try to make due dates two to three days early and trick yourself into thinking you have something due soon. This will create short-term stress, but will pay off in the long term. For most people, stressing out over assignments is very normal and happens to everyone. Remember if assignments are turned in on time, will successfully manage the future stress loads.

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    Social Support

    Social support greatly reduces the feeling of being overwhelmed. First year of college students will find that peer support along with roommate support will combat procrastination, such as not giving you a ride to a party or making you the designated driver on purpose. Professors can also become great social support by keeping you up to date on your academic progress. Remember, they're not new to procrastination.

    Overall, having effective time management skills, dealing with resources on campus, and having a good social support will help combat being overwhelmed during the first year of college.






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