Tips for the Stressed College Student
Why is college student stress such a factor, especially in the first year? For most high school students, it’s a quantum leap from the guided routine and familiarity of home and school. Off at college, the student is not only on her own, but now is only in class a few hours a week having to discipline herself to do, well, everything. There’s no help from parents and family nor friends, in many cases. Everything went from the completely familiar and routine to the unfamiliar and unknown. Not being prepared for this has taken down many a college freshman to the tune of 20-30% dropping before sophomore year. But there is generally one thing that can be done to alleviate a great deal of this first-time stress that has to do with making an accurate and well-thought out career decision or choice of major.
In most cases, there is going to be a certain level of depression among college students, especially freshman, that is related to all this insecurity and unknowing mentioned above. All of it can’t be avoided, but the best thing that can be done to limit this is to work often and early before the student goes off to college to discover who he or she is and to exploit those talents, skills, abilities, and gifts to increase confidence thus decreasing college student depression and insecurity. After all, there’s enough unknown in the first year, not having a well-thought out plan before entering college only makes things worse.
How’s this done?
In most cases, going to high school or college advisers is not advisable. Why? Let me explain.
First, don’t get inside advice. Just like insider trading, it’s not good. Going to a school counselor is like going to a bank and asking for investing advice. What is suggested? CDs and IRAs which, amazingly enough, they happen to have, and “at the best rates in town!” Not good.
Also, when considering advice, there’s the issue of private versus public. You get your best product / service when the person’s livelihood depends on it, meaning that customer satisfaction is primary. If someone has tenure or their career locked away and no matter what advice they give it doesn’t affect their pay or job stability, well then, you’ve got a problem, don’t you? How many high school or college counselors ever checked into the customer satisfaction of those they’ve advised to see if their advice was effective? How many schools have shot off a questionnaire after graduation to see if the knowledge, skills, advice given to students was effective and of substantial, practical use? I think you get the point.
Unfortunately, the truth is that those whose livelihood depends on your satisfaction are the best people to go to for advice, products, and services. There are just too few who will give you their best merely out of the kindness of their heart. Not to get negative here, but better to deal with reality so that you do get the best bang for your buck. And if you’re seeking free or inexpensive advices, well, as they say, you get what you pay for.
So how else can you limit freshman stress outside of getting squared away with one’s major?
The answer is manifold.
First, you must look at all important areas of your life. Some examples are health, money, career, friends and family, romance / significant other, fun and recreation. If you don’t look at your life as a whole in deciding a major, you will more than likely change your major until cows come home. Because of a lack of planning, the average student changes his / her major three times. Sad news is that often even that doesn’t do it because within seven to ten years after graduating, 70% of grads are no longer working in a field related to their major. Just WAY too little planning going on before students go off to college.
But there’s more.
Now you must research your talents, abilities, gifts to determine where and how you will make your money. You will not know specifically up front, but that’s OK. As the successful say, shoot and then aim. You will have a general understanding of where you’ll be going, but only by following a planned-for path on a daily, monthly, yearly bases, even, will a more specific understanding of where you need to be will come to light. There is no other way.
Next, you must look at character. Being trustworthy, honest, honorable, dependable, straight forward, hardworking, giving, and so on, is great, of course. But we all have character flaws that need to be addressed. Remember that success can come because of your talents and gifts, but just look at the news headlines of the successful who have fallen and fallen hard, and you’ll see why addressing character flaws is critical. As a matter of fact, no amount of talent, ability, knowledge, or gifts can compensate for the self-sabotaging of poor character.
Finally, you must study and know inside and out all the critical success principles: how to work well with others, tolerance of others and ideas, creativity, honor and self-accountability, self-control, succeeding through failure, and so on. Without a thorough understanding here, you are limited in the extreme.
My biggest tip for college students? Get working on knowing yourself and doing so with someone who is knowledgeable, who’s been there, who is concerned about your welfare and has a passion for what he does. Passion translates into one who has not only discovered their lives’ calling but are doing their best to use it and live it every day.
Well, I’m excited. I hope you are too. I always get excited or passionate about what I love. You will too. We all need a career we’re passionate about. Let me help you build yours.
Here’s to your success.