5 Tips for Managing Stress in College During Your First Semester

Feeling a little stressed thinking about how you’re going to juggle your new college schedule, homework, and other life responsibilities? You’re definitely not alone! Managing stress in college is essential to success—and it takes some consideration.

Not every moment during your first semester will be a breeze, but it’s important that you’re able to enjoy your time on campus. These five tips can help you balance your studies, work, and life.

1. Limit Work and Volunteer Hours

Working a part-time job, interning, and volunteering are all great activities that can boost your résumé. However, if you’re able, consider holding off on (or limiting) work hours until your second semester of college.

Spend time getting a feel for college life and finding your groove before adding more to your schedule. If taking a break from working is out of the question, consider an on-campus job that works with your school schedule rather than against it.

2. Learn How to Work Smarter, Not Harder

One of the keys to effectively managing stress in college is learning to manage your time well. Writing out a large to-do list of all your tasks is a great start, but it’s often not enough. It’s a good idea to schedule a time to focus on school tasks each day.

Try devoting two to three hours to schoolwork each day without social media and tech distractions. Not only will you retain more info, but you’re likely to get more done in your focused block of time. Writing a paper? Pull the resources you need and then turn off your wifi access for an hour to help you stay on task without the distraction of the internet.

Take advantage of weeks with lighter workloads to get ahead on reading or work on an assignment that’s due at the end of the semester. You can also use study hacks to help you maximize your time. For example, you might be able to listen to one of your English texts through an audiobook while walking around campus.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

No one ever said you had to succeed in college on your own. There are going to be times when you need a little extra help—and that’s OK!

All of your professors hold regular office hours and are happy to help you with projects. A little face time can be incredibly impactful. If you’re still confused about last week’s lecture or can’t figure out how to start your paper, don’t hesitate to schedule a meeting with your professor. But don’t wait until the assignment is due! Review assignment instructions early so you have time to meet with your professor before you start working.

You can also take advantage of campus resources. For instance, Azusa Pacific University offers a Writing Center, Speaking Center, and Math Center designed to help students succeed, no matter the class or project. You can get help overcoming writers’ block, feel confident with your presentation, or get extra math tutoring—all of which are covered by your tuition.

If managing stress in college is hard for you, definitely speak with an academic success coach about possible solutions. Don’t wait for burnout to happen before you seek help. The University Counseling Center is a great resource for APU students who are feeling emotionally overwhelmed; counselors are trained to address different needs and can help create strategies for managing stress.

4. Embrace Healthy Habits

Sometimes a late-night study session is needed—but don’t let that become the norm. Getting enough sleep is vital for all other areas of your life! According to John Hopkins Medicine, lack of sleep can lead to memory issues and trouble concentrating, as well as a weakened immune system and an increase in blood pressure.

We know your schedule is packed, and it can be easy to replace a full night’s rest with a double espresso, but you aren’t doing yourself any favors by sacrificing sleep. If you can’t regularly devote seven to nine hours to sleep, then your itinerary is too full and changes need to be made. You can discuss solutions with your advisor, who will help you find ways to improve your schedule.

5. Enjoy On-Campus Events

Don’t let your college life become all work and no play. Remember to set aside time to enjoy on-campus activities and events or athletic competitions to keep your stress levels down.

You can use these events to take a mental break from studying and to deepen new friendships. These activities are an important part of the college experience and can help open the doors to new interests and passions, while also giving you the opportunity to form fond memories and close relationships.

Curious to learn about other ways Azusa Pacific University ensures the success of its students? Explore the Academic Success Center and learn about its many offerings.