One of the worst things about going back to school is the feeling of overwhelming dread one gets looking at all there is to do during a semester. It is often called “syllabus shock.” Seeing what is on the syllabus the instructor hands out at the beginning of the semester can lead to waves of emotional pain.
“Will I ever be able to complete all this?” “I’ve never had to write a paper that long!” “A group project?! I hate working on group projects!” These are some of the thoughts I’ve had in my life when I went back to school and looked at a syllabus. Multiply that by four or five for each class I took in a semester and the dread can feel daunting.
The fact is that I, along with many other people, have made it through that back to school anxiety. We were not taken down by it. I’ve found there are a few things I did that helped me deal with the worry that came with starting a new school year.
1. Break down your responsibilities
What is it you have to do for the semester? Classes are one part of that, but are you also involved in clubs, a job, a sports team, or something off-campus? Make a list of the things that are requirements—things you have to do.
2. Set up a schedule
Once you have a list, map out what time these responsibilities occur. When are your classes? The clubs you’re a part of? Your job? Seeing everything in one place will enable you to not feel too overwhelmed. Also, you’ll see when you can do other things, such as time with friends and time to study
3. Talk to someone
If you’re feeling overwhelmed with school and studying, talk to someone. Maybe it’s a parent or friend—someone who can tell you they’ve been there too or are going through things and can relate. You can speak with a therapist at your school if you’re finding it difficult to maintain a balance between your studying and life outside of classes. It’s okay to talk with professors, too, during their office hours, and see if they can provide any insight to help you with your work in their class.
4. Don’t be afraid to take a step back
If school is causing you to feel overwhelmed and your mental health is suffering, don’t hesitate to drop a class if that’s an option. Overwhelming yourself with too much work and stress isn’t worth going down a path of feeling crappy, mentally. Looking out for yourself and your mental health is one of the most important things you can do in your time in college.
It’s important students continue to share their difficulties including beginning-of-the-year anxieties. It’s also important for staff and faculty to be open-minded to the diversity of students’ backgrounds and what they’re going through. Continual communication and a sense of understanding are key. Practicing these will help students overcome the stress they face at the beginning of the school year.
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This blog is an exploration of the subjects of belonging and loneliness. I also look at mental health issues. I seek to provide content to my readers that is informative and helpful. If you don't want to miss anything, sign up for my email list.