Does the thought of the first day of college arriving leave you sleepless and experiencing heart palpitations? Don’t give up on your dream of earning a degree and having a lucrative career after graduation. That’s because being scared to go to college can be dealt with in some surprisingly simple ways.
Students terrified to go to college should prepare, set goals, and build their confidence and skill set. It’s also a good idea for them to visit the campus or meet students virtually. Keeping busy, staying healthy, avoiding triggers, counting one’s blessings, and staying positive can help, too.
Anxiety, stress, loneliness — 44% of college students say these are their biggest challenges.
If you fear that you might end up as part of the statistics the moment you step foot on the campus of the college of your choice, don’t stop reading now. By the time you reach the end of this article, you will be adept at dealing with anxiety related to going to college, thus allowing you to get your hands on a degree as trouble-free as possible.
Just about anything new can cause anxiety, and that includes going off to college. It’s no secret that college classes are more difficult than high school classes. In addition, college students are more diverse and also more eager to achieve something than high school students. So, in other words, college is an entirely different world!
Worry not if the thought of going to college terrifies you. Below, you will come across 12 of the things you may do to make college more exciting than horrifying.
Build Self-Confidence By Counting Achievements
Self-confidence is all about having trust in yourself. Without enough trust in yourself, it’s not unlikely for all sorts of common college fears to come into being. What if I get failing grades? What if I fail to make friends? What if everyone makes fun of me? What if my roommates pull a nasty prank on me?
It’s because of this why it’s a good idea to start building your self-confidence. After all, it’s not just throughout college that being confident will come in handy. It will prove to be valuable after earning your degree!
College is filled with challenges, and having self-confidence can help you tackle each of them with ease.
The good news is that there are many ways to increase your self-confidence and thus lower college-related anxiety. Some of the things you may start doing right now before the grand day arrives include:
- Counting your achievements
- Embracing new hobbies
- Partaking in activities that make you happy
- Honing your natural talents
- Developing new skills
Speaking of which, the next tip will give you an idea of some of the skills you have to develop.
Learn Essential Life Skills
Being away from home is one of the things that make going to college absolutely terrifying for many.
It’s not just essential skills necessary inside the classroom that can help you survive college but also critical skills inside the dorm room and outside the campus. It’s a good thing that you can easily learn an assortment of life skills essential for college from your parents or siblings or friends who are in or went to college.
You don’t have to learn how to have a photographic memory or become a human calculator.
It’s the littlest skills — the ones many kids don’t even bother to learn — that can help you go to college and live to tell the tale, such as, but not limited to:
- Washing your clothes, sheets, etc. (and folding them, too)
- Cleaning the kitchen and scrubbing the bathroom
- Grocery shopping
- Preparing healthy meals (as opposed to simply grabbing a bag of chips each time)
- Getting around on foot or using a car or bicycle
- Budgeting your expenses
Have all the necessary life skills before heading off to college, and you’re golden!
Prepare Very Well in Advance
By failing to prepare, as Benjamin Franklin once said, you are preparing to fail. It can be extremely challenging to survive college without grooming yourself for the many different obstacles before getting your hands on your degree.
Admissions experts say that students should begin applying to college at the start of their senior year of high school.
When it comes to going to the college that has sent you an acceptance letter, there is no definite time as to when to start gearing up for it. However, as a general rule, you should prepare in advance as much as you possibly can. Some of the things that you may do ahead of time include:
- Acquiring your textbooks — read some of them, too, if possible
- Get yourself acquainted with technology, such as a laptop or something specific to your major
- Visit the campus (more on this later, so keep on reading)
- Obtaining various dorm room essentials — pillows, bedside lamp, alarm clock, toiletries, etc.
- Finding out tutoring options
- Getting in touch with your professors
Deal With Excess Adrenaline the Right Way
Anxiety caused by the thought of going to college floods your bloodstream with adrenaline.
The problem with this is that an adrenaline rush can make you even more anxious. That’s because it can cause you to encounter anxiety-inducing symptoms, such as increased heart rate, shallow breathing, lightheadedness and hand tremors.
This can create a vicious circle that’s hard to escape.
It’s because of this why it’s a good idea to put too much adrenaline in your body to good use — use all the excess hormones to prepare for college. It’s like shooting two birds with one stone: you are reducing your anxiety levels while increasing your college readiness.
One of the best ways to deal with excess adrenaline is by organizing and tidying up your room before living on-campus. Throw away the things that are beyond use. On the other hand, put up for sale items that you no longer need but could be of use to others — it’s a great way to make extra money for college!
Start Making New Friends
Just because your college life hasn’t officially started yet doesn’t mean you can’t start making friends.
Thanks to the internet, you can feel like you are already a part of the gang by visiting the college’s Facebook group and participating in the conversations.
This is a wonderful way to get acquainted with not only those who are currently attending the school but also students who are about to set foot on the campus anytime soon.
You may even attain peace of mind knowing that many incoming freshmen are just as edgy as you!
Feel free to like, comment or ask questions — no one can provide you better answers to your school-related concerns than students who are attending it.
In some instances, various Facebook groups may exist, such as by programs, college-level, dormitory, club, organization, extracurricular activities and fraternity or sorority.
By spending time online getting to know the college’s students and culture, your high anxiety may even be replaced with sheer excitement.
Visit the Campus
Besides visiting the college’s Facebook group, you may also pay the college itself a visit. This is especially true if you are still in the process of deciding whether or not it’s the school for you.
While there, it’s a great idea to go to orientation even if the school does not require new students to do so.
Going to orientation can help reduce your fear and anxiety by having a feel for the campus, getting acquainted with the many clubs and organizations the school offers and meeting new friends in person rather than just via the internet.
Stopping by the campus also gives you the opportunity to meet with an adviser.
Being face to face with an adviser is a great way to obtain answers to your many college questions, the majority of which can leave you in cold sweats.
And it’s not just any answers that you will get — you will get answers that are specific to the college you are about to attend, which can definitely erase any anxiety-inducing qualms you have.
Does the college also offer an assortment of fun and exciting summer events such as picnics and meet-ups?
Then make sure that you attend one held in a city that’s closest to yours.
Avoid Coffee and Alcohol
Earlier, we talked about excess adrenaline and how to use it to help lower your fear of going to college.
To keep your adrenaline levels from reaching sky-high, stay away from coffee. That’s because coffee contains caffeine, which is something that triggers the release of adrenaline.
If you already have lots of adrenaline in your bloodstream due to anxiety associated with going to college, a cup of coffee can worsen matters.
Similarly, it’s a good idea to steer clear of drinking alcohol. Many people consume alcohol in order to escape their problems, which is why you may find it tempting to get intoxicated to forget going to college.
Alcohol intake can help take your mind off the impending moment in your academic life alright. However, you will feel anxious once again once the effects of alcohol wear off.
To deal with the matter, you might consume even more alcohol. This could lead to an issue that’s so much bigger than college-related anxiety: substance abuse.
Count Your Blessings
A 2020 survey revealed that 56% of students said their families couldn’t afford to pay for their college.
If you are not one of the majority of kids who have no choice but to turn their backs on earning a degree, be very thankful for the opportunity to enjoy a brighter future. And if the thought of going to college (because your family can send you to college), be really, really thankful.
That’s because research shows gratefulness can help reduce anxiety effectively.
Besides being able to attend college, it’s also a great idea to be thankful for many other wonderful things you have that many don’t — counting your blessings is good for mental health.
There are more blessings to be grateful for than you think, and some of them are:
- Being alive
- Having family and friends
- The presence of a roof over your head
- Being in good health
- Getting an acceptance letter from the college of your dreams
Ancient tradition says that you should count not less than 100 blessings a day.
But if you don’t have the time to enumerate a hundred or more things you are thankful for, fret not. You can count your blessings until you feel good enough, which can help reduce your anxiety and improve your ability to cope with the stresses associated with college.
Staying Busy to Distract from Negative Thoughts
As they say, an idle mind is the devil’s workshop.
Sitting around all day worrying about your impending college life won’t do you any good. The more you think about the scary things associated with college, the scarier college gets.
You may even come to the point where it may seem like earning a degree can do more harm than good, thus causing you to cancel your college application.
The goal is to keep your mind as far away as possible from the stresses and challenges of attending college. And one of the best ways to do this is to get yourself busy doing things, especially productive ones.
It was mentioned earlier that gearing up for college in advance is important.
Well, springing into action to prepare for that milestone is usually more than enough to keep you busy. By the time you are through with being busy, your brain and body will be too tired and exhausted to even think about college.
Take Care of Yourself
Did you know that too much stress can weaken your immune system and thus make you susceptible to catching all sorts of infections?
It can also lead to high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke. Getting ready for college while facing a health crisis can make such a momentous event in your life seem more stressful and traumatic.
Because of this, it’s a must that you take care of yourself to stay in the pink of health.
Eating healthy foods, getting your regular dose of exercise, catching seven to nine hours of sleep per night, steering clear of cigarette smoking — these and more can help offset the negative effects of excessive stress on your body.
Partaking in various stress-reducing activities is a great idea, too, such as:
- Doing yoga
- Taking a whiff of relaxing essential oils
- Listening to soothing tunes
- Reading a nice book
- Taking a bath
- Watching your favorite TV sitcom
- Taking care of a pet
- Chatting with family and friends
It’s not just your physical health that can suffer if you are too stressed but also your mental health. It’s not unlikely for you to have anxiety disorder and depression, which can make going to college even more difficult.
Keep Your Eyes on the Prize
Uncertainty causes fear. And it’s exactly because of this why you may dread going to college if you are unsure why you want to obtain higher education.
On the other hand, if you know precisely the reason for attending college, you will find it so much easier to conquer your fears — what you want to achieve is far more important than any fear.
Most students go to college in order to have a stable, high-paying job one day.
According to data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), people with bachelor’s degrees earn about $1,305 per week. On the other hand, people with just high school diplomas earned around $781 per week only. The difference in the weekly median salary of these two groups of people should be enough to maintain a clear vision of your goal.
Before applying to colleges and universities, make sure that you identify the reason for doing so. Otherwise, you may feel like earning a degree is unnecessary, which can leave you feeling pressured, stressed and anxious.
Maintain a Positive Mindset
When facing a new and massive challenge, such as going to college, it can be easy for your mind to be filled with negative thoughts, which can make college even more frightening for those who find it terrifying.
I won’t survive far away from home. My major is too difficult. Other students will laugh at my clothes. My professors will embarrass me. It’s perfectly understandable for these things and more to pop into your mind. What’s definitely not understandable is you dwelling on all sorts of negative thoughts.
College is survivable if you work hard and put your mind to it. Otherwise, there would be no college degree-holders on the face of the planet.
Many college graduates also had doubts and fears before stepping foot on their respective campuses. But look at them now — they survived and are now reaping the fruits of their labor!
Refrain from assuming that having a positive mindset is all about thinking happy thoughts and pretending like there are no problems to face and challenges to overcome.
You will still acknowledge the fact that obstacles are everywhere, but you believe you can conquer them.
Going off to college, especially if it’s out-of-state and miles away from home, can be stressful and nerve-racking. After all, college is a much bigger, challenging and diverse world than high school.
It’s true that it’s perfectly fine to feel anxious. However, it’s a completely different story if you make a rash decision because of your nerves, such as deciding to earn a degree some other time or skip college altogether. While you have every right to do anything you like, always keep in mind that, in most instances, opportunity knocks but once.
Above, we talked about some of the things you may do if you are scared to go to college.
Doing them may not eliminate all your college-related anxious thoughts alright. But with practice, you can keep your anxiety to a minimum, thus making the first day of college one of the most exciting life moments ever!
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the College Reality Check.