Problems in Student Life: Every child hears that college years would be the best days of their life and that the experience of student life is unparalleled. Surrounded by like-minded peers and a treasure trove of knowledge, it is no question that student life remains an integral part of one’s life. The period during which one is a student tends to be one of the most informative and life-changing duration of one’s life, it is the time when a person learns the most and is faced with new challenges and tries to learn how to navigate the world. For most, it also includes the age of adolescence and the growth of a person into a full-blown adult. But this experience comes with its own ups and downs, the anxiety people face during these times is normal, it’s a complete change in environment and displacement from what they have known before. Among these drastic changes and opportunities for learning, one faces many problems.
Here are ten major challenges and struggles of student life and how one can think about dealing with them –
- Adjusting to Academics
- Time Management
- Moving Out
- Living with new people
- Relationship with Parents
- Relationship with Peers
- Old and new friends
- Identity Formation
- Mental Health
ADJUSTING TO ACADEMICS
Going from a school learning environment to a college one or even changing colleges means a shift in how one approaches academics. A college is extremely different from how a school works, students are expected to maintain a standard of writing and promptness in their work which can be overwhelming. Many explore new career options and pathways that they previously may not have thought about. It can be surprising for parents and even the students themselves to be interested in trying out something new.
Apart from this, classes in colleges are also very different, some lectures can be interesting and others boring; often there are peer-learning methods implemented that can challenge more introverted students to open up. Different professors have different styles of teaching and expectations from students, and trying to figure these out can lead to them initially not performing as well as they expected to do.
A way to try to deal with such difficulties is to keep your mind open and slowly work through them. The want of a career change can come at any point in life, one should give it proper thought and seriously consider their avenues and explore the market before pursuing it. For new classes and teachers, it’s best to check out the syllabus and have a clear idea of what to expect from the course. It’s also a good idea to ask any seniors or alumni who are already familiar with how to go about things, even any administrative help they might need.
The aforementioned changes also come with many scheduling needs. From classes to daily life, transport to sleep and food, suddenly all these have to be taken into consideration and students have to figure out how to manage all of it in one day. Especially, hard courses or heavy coursework can throw off one’s sleep schedule and then the rest of the day also falls into disarray
A way to keep a track of things and try to figure out how to fit everything that needs to be done is first by figuring out what doesn’t need to be done and eliminating it from the agenda for the day. Next is to prioritize things based on what needs to be done, this comes after making sure daily necessities have been seen too- you don’t want to make a habit of skipping meals to finish assignments, it does not work out well in the long term. Putting aside enough allotted for eating, sleeping and other daily routine things; the next is to figure out a good balance of studies and have some downtime as well. One can do this on a general basis and get an idea of what to look forward to, and jot down any important events or long-term projects as well.
For many, it’s not easy to plan out their entire day, another approach is to just make a list of what they want to get done and strike things off as they do. It is easier and less daunting to start with but helps all the same.
Many students move from one end of the country to another or even to other countries and struggle with the massive change. Students need to find a place to stay, probably at a hostel, or as a Paid-Guest(PG) or rent/buy an apartment for themselves. Each of these comes with its own problems, one can never truly guess what environment they’re moving into. Apart from the actual moving, students would need to take care of their belongings, existing ones and what they need to buy. If they are renting an apartment, then furniture, appliances, the rent money, and other bills also need to be kept in mind. For the other options, chances are they would be living with complete strangers and that itself also is a concern.
One needs to take into account what they’ll need to buy or carry while moving into the new space, as well as what is allowed. It’s best to make either a list of things or walk through a day in your life to make sure you remember all the essentials you’ll need. Divide things according to their locations/rooms or functions for an easier time.
Security is another concern if one is renting an apartment, it would be good to buy sturdy locks and make sure all doors and windows are up to date. This is taken out in case of a hostel or PG but nevertheless important to check.
LIVING WITH NEW PEOPLE
As previously said, moving out goes hand in hand with meeting and living with or around new people. Each person has their own way of occupying their space, some prefer loud music, others prefer silence; it can be trying to figure out what works for everyone. If it is a PG or hostel where there is a larger authoritative figure, it is best to figure out what the ground rules are.
As for roommates, clashing with them is natural but it does not need to escalate to any point that the two parties start to hate each other. Different ways of living are to be expected, it can be challenging to get used to a new person who will occupy a large space in their life for quite a while. Make sure to put down rules and draw proper lines when it comes to personal space and belongings, as well as how to split the bills.
Possibly for the first time in their lives, it is on the students themselves to try and take care of themselves to a much larger extent than they have before. There are many new things they discover that they need to have under control, from their own studies, meals, clothes, and money- all in all it is one of the hardest things to learn and at the same time, the most necessary. Feeling independent is as thrilling as it is daunting, for the first time everything comes down to you. And it is not something that happens overnight, it can be a gradual change that comes over months or even years, the key is to know that you have to balance things properly.
Some may feel comfortable with asking for parental and outside help while others may not and feel that they need to prove themselves. It is good to try and talk about this with fellow students and friends because chances are they are also feeling the same. Prioritize what you feel is important and needs to be done but never compromise on health, and know who to be able to call in case of emergencies or if you need help.
RELATIONSHIP WITH PARENTS
Student life is a time when one’s relationship with their parents fluctuates a lot, at home it can feel like a lot of pressure is on the student to perform well, and outside homesickness can hit badly. Moving out means getting used to the lack of family, even if it is just one person the whole family misses. Parents might find themselves feeling imbalanced not knowing what their child is up to, and the children might be lost on how to stay connected with their family with the physical distance between them. They get a lot more freedom in what they want to do and how to go about their day, but the option to be able to reach out to family in case of need should be there.
It becomes important to find a way to keep in contact, it’s best to try and form some sort of schedule to be able to stay in touch, either intending to visit home or at least call them and keep them updated. One can figure out common free time both parents and the children have which gives them both an amount of autonomy in deciding how much they want to share and how. In case the relationship is not a very close one or a tense one, it also allows the child to be able to keep the distance they want and only share what they are comfortable with.
RELATIONSHIP WITH PEERS
It’s a time of meeting new people who may be similar in age but who come from very different backgrounds. They’ll meet people with views different from their own and may find assimilating to such an environment difficult. When people from all walks of life meet, it is a great learning opportunity but at the same time, it can lead to almost violent clashes. These relationships also turn into lifelong relationships and connections so it is good to create valuable relationships and put the time and effort into them.
It’s important to know your and others’ boundaries, especially if you are aware you will be spending a lot of time with the other person if they have similar courses. Some students may take studies very seriously and others may focus more on socializing and extracurriculars. One needs to find the balance they are comfortable with, a little bit of both. And finding friends that whom they share interests is a great way to start. This is easily facilitated by the college or school clubs where not only can they meet classmates but also students from different years with an already present common interest.
OLD AND NEW FRIENDS
It is very easy to lose connection with old friends as students move forward in life. If you’re headed in the same direction, chances are that you’ll be in close contact and maintain the relationship. But for friends who are either moving away or find themselves too busy to juggle everything, it can lead to emotional distance and a loss of the relationship.
Make plans to catch up, similar to family, have set times like a weekly call or get-together, and keep each other up-to-date with what’s going on. Social media makes this really easy, sometimes it can just be sending each other memes or jokes on Instagram.
And as for making new friends, it comes down to interests, views and how much you enjoy spending time with the person. Going out together or working on projects together helps figure out what kind of people you are associating yourself with. Know that you can talk to them about similar problems you both are facing but that you should listen to their problems as well.
This is the time when a large part of students’ identity is moulded and formed, their beliefs are solidified and they explore who they are. Gaining a certain level of independence over what they’ve been allowed to do makes students want to dig deeper into what they want to do or do not want to do. In such a large world, this includes questioning your identity and who you are down to gender and sexuality.
This happens in college a lot as dress codes are less strict, and people get more freedom to explore what they like and observe what others like as well. Identity is often considered performative, being able to carry out actions and be able to present the way you want often leads to a sense of identity and belonging. It is a good time for students to try and find out more about themselves, open themselves to new ideas and looks, new opportunities and go with what feels most comfortable. As scary as it may seem to question things you’ve known and thought to be permanent all your life, that is an excellent way of getting to know what you think are ideas that you will be carrying forward in life and which ones you think you need to question more.
Almost everything in student life that’s mentioned above can exert heavy mental pressure on the students. Stress from academics can heavily influence the student’s future life choices, a bad course can lead to them asking if they’ve chosen the right field. Sometimes people can find short-term solutions to burnout like partying or distracting themselves through other means, but without having an idea of some proper long-term resolution of the issue, it only festers and leads to bigger problems. Low-self esteem issues, lack of confidence, conflicts, loss of motivation, dealing with grief etc., are increasingly visible issues the youth deals with. Trying to figure out so many things about themselves, society and how to function as an adult is overwhelming and hard, it comes with its own pitfalls. What’s important is to know how to take yourself out of those pitfalls, and not to be afraid to ask for help.
It is a good idea to keep in mind the long-term effects or consequences. Don’t try to take up more than you can handle, an extra course may sound exciting but if you do not have the capacity for it, don’t try to overexert yourself. Often colleges have healthcare professionals available for students to be able to contact if needed and one should use this benefit. Talking about handling workload with other classmates and seniors can help a person figure out and learn better management skills. If you think you need serious help, it is always a better option to seek professional help, granted it may not always be easily accessible, but it is vital to your health that you take the measures needed.