The first day of college can seem like the perfect storm of back to school anxiety. Between not knowing where your classes are, not knowing the people in your class, and having no idea how or where you’re going to find time to be a human being, feelings of fear and stress can put you in a dark place. And if you’re like me, who has always struggled with anxiety, big life events like this can seem daunting, whether you’re attending college virtually, in person, or doing something in between this year. While I’m no doctor, as someone who eventually graduated from college in one piece, I can offer some helpful tips on how to beat back to school anxiety in college.
1. Where’s my class? Whether your school has a small campus or is smack in the heart of a big city, the task of finding your classes can be stressful as hell. If you’re like me, this might make you anxious about getting to your classes on time. But there’s a simple solution: a day or two before classes start, do a quick walk-through of your schedule. Time out how long it takes to get from one class or building to another. This way, your routine isn’t a surprise on the first day of classes. One benefit of doing online classes is that you don’t need to worry about this–all your classes can be found on your computer!
2. What if I don’t know anyone in my class? I know how uncomfortable it can be to sit in a small class — or even a big lecture hall — and feel completely and utterly like just a face in the crowd. In high school, we become so conditioned to seeing a few familiar faces every day that it can be jarring once we get to college and are instantly immersed in a completely new setting. But everybody in the class feels awkward–trust me. You are not alone. Check out this blog post on fostering a sense of community in online classes for more information.
3. What if I don’t have everything I need? Sometimes, it’s unclear whether your professor wants you to have certain textbooks or reading materials on day one, or if she wants to tell you what to get on your first day. This is a seemingly little thing that can cause a lot of anxiety, but there’s a trick that can save you a lot of stress: just send your professor an email a few days before class. It’s also a great way to e-introduce yourself to your professor before the semester starts.
4. What if I don’t like my classes? Hey, it happens. You might show up to a class you were really excited about, only to find that the professor and/or the subject matter just weren’t what you expected. But don’t worry — almost every college has a way for you to drop the class and find a new one that fits your schedule. Talk to your college advisor about it–it’s what they’re getting paid to do.
5. When will I sleep? Such is the existential question of all college students. Making time to sleep is not only essential, but it will also help you beat back to school anxiety in ways you wouldn’t believe. Many anxious people struggle with sleep, so if you’re affected by this, be sure to check out this handy guide on how to learn better sleeping habits. And don’t be fooled–it’s just as important to develop a healthy sleep schedule when you’re doing online classes as it is for in-person classes.
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