Heading back to college – or showing up for your very first semester – can be a stressful experience.  Even if you’re really motivated and excited about school starting up again for the fall, the adjustment in schedules and routines can lead to a period of anxiety and stress.  While the response to a change is completely natural, so are the ways you can help to cope with the stressful situation and avoid negative consequences like poor sleep or poor academic performance.

Since the human stress response manifests in physical ways, even if the source of the stress is purely psychological like the transition back to school, it can largely be addressed with physical remedies.

Sleep early / get to class early

One of the biggest sources of stress for college students is a lack of sleep!  There is a lot going on and there’s a temptation to let the opportunities overwhelm your schedule, but try to keep a good sleeping schedule and get to class on time.  No more midnight coffee – at least for a week or two while you get settled into the school routine!  Being late or sleeping through class can lead to a whole list of other stresses like failing to turn in assignments or attendance-related grading.  And of course, when you’re tired any bit of bad news of them will set you off more than if you were rested.


Believe it or not, a little bit of exercise can go a long way to reduce stress.  It can even help you get to sleep regularly!  Many universities have exercise facilities for student use, so take advantage of these resources or just take a job around campus.  You’ll keep your energy levels higher, and you’ll be better suited to deal with issues that pop up.

Set Limits / Be Realistic

It may sound obvious, but sometimes you have to admit that you won’t be able to take six classes while running two clubs and attending events for three others.  Sometimes though, if you really want to accomplish all of those things, it can be easy to forget exactly how much time and effort all of those goals can take.  Tests and class assignments should take top priority, and then your favorite clubs and extra-curricular activities can compete for secondary attention.

Don’t fall behind

Despite all the distraction, be sure to find time to keep up to date on the first week’s worth of reading and class assignments.  Its easy to fall behind, but it can be very difficult to catch up with the class later on – and trying to play catch up will certainly add to your stress level.

Take a Deep Breath

If everything seems too crazy and it just gets to be too much, close your eyes and take a deep breath!  This simple action can help clear your mind and slow your pulse.

These things may seem like common sense, or maybe even too simple to help overcome all types of stress.  But if you follow these tips, the transition back to college life won’t be so tough!  Now, that doesn’t mean challenges and unexpected events won’t pop up in your way, that’s all just part of the experience.  However, with these simple steps, you’ll be in a better position to deal with whatever happens.

2 Responses to “Tips for Overcoming Back to School Stress”

  1. Thank you for your tips. Surely they look very good. Thumbs UP

  2. Another tip for college students is to get involved on campus. Most colleges usually have an involvement fair, or something similar, during the first few weeks of school. This is a chance for students to discover all the various clubs and activities that the school has to offer. Maybe he or she is interested in a fraternity or sorority or maybe he or she wants to join a club that is somehow associated to your major or career interests. Whatever the case may be, getting involved on campus is the quickest way to meet people.

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