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Overcoming Anxiety: "How Do I Stop Being So Anxious About College?"

Updated: Apr 5

How do i stop being so anxious?
Overcoming Anxiety - How do deal with anxiety

Starting College Can Be Stressful: Keys to Overcoming Anxiety


Starting college can be a monumental step in one’s life, often accompanied by a mix of excitement and apprehension. The anticipation of new experiences, the pressure of academic achievement, and the fear of the unknown can lead to anxiety for many students. Overcoming anxiety can be challenging. However, understanding how to manage these feelings is crucial in ensuring that the college journey is both enjoyable and successful. Here, we explore strategies to mitigate, and potentially, overcome anxiety relating to college and other new situations. The article also discusses common coping mechanisms to help deal with anxiety like the 3-3-3 rule, how to identify common triggers, and offers tips to calm nerves when dealing with anxiety producing events like starting college.



Understanding College Anxiety: Is Anxiety Before College Normal?

Feeling anxious before college is common and natural, given the significant changes ahead. For more insights,  One thing to remember is you are not alone. An article in the New York Times in 2019 noted "More than 60 percent of college students said they had experienced “overwhelming anxiety” in the past year, according to a 2018 report from the American College Health Association." An interesting article from the University of Michigan entitled "College students’ anxiety, depression higher than ever, but so are efforts to receive care" delves deeper into this issue.


Why Does College Make Me So Anxious?

Anxiety in college can stem from academic pressures, financial concerns, and social adjustments. The American Psychological Association provides an in-depth exploration of these triggers. An article in Psychology today entitled, "Why Do So Many College Students Have Anxiety Disorders?" explores the findings of psychologist Jean Twenge on the increase in today's college students. She cites 3 main reasons, increase in materialistic values, the rising cost of college and the effect of "helicopter" parents leading to delayed independence.


Why is Starting College So Stressful? What is the Main Cause of Anxiety in College Students?

The stress of beginning college comes from facing the unknown and managing new responsibilities. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America has resources specifically for college students. There are many different reasons students feel anxious about starting college, but a common reason is it is probably the first time they have been alone and are making career decisions on the own that will impact their future. In essence, it is the feeling of uncertainty about their ability to successfully navigate the challenges that they will face in their everyday life in college. Academic pressures and future uncertainties often lie at the heart of college anxiety. The National Institute of Mental Health offers further reading on anxiety disorders



What Triggers Anxiety in College Students?

Anxiety in college students can be triggered by a variety of factors, including:

  • Academic Pressure: The demand for academic excellence and fear of failure can be overwhelming.

  • Social Situations: Navigating new social landscapes, including making friends and fitting in, can provoke anxiety.

  • Financial Concerns: Worries about tuition fees, living expenses, and debt can contribute to stress levels.

  • Future Uncertainty: Concerns about choosing the right major, career prospects, and life after college are common anxiety triggers.


This simple technique can help ground you in moments of anxiety. Mindful offers further guidance on mindfulness and grounding techniques.


Strategies for Managing College Anxiety


How do i stop being so anxious? Overcoming Anxiety
Overcoming Anxiety- How do I deal with Anxiety in College?

How Do I Stop Being So Anxious About College?


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  • Familiarize Yourself: Getting to know the campus and attending orientation can ease initial fears. Websites like Campus Tours allow virtual campus visits.

  • Build a Support System: Joining social media groups or campus clubs can help. Meetup is a great place to find groups with similar interests.

  • Stay Organized: Tools like Google Calendar can help keep track of important dates and tasks.

  • Access Support Services: Most colleges offer counseling and mental health services. Don't hesitate to reach out for professional support. The American College Counseling Association provides a directory of resources. An interesting article in Psychology Today entitled, "How to Treat Anxiety in College Students" explores the difference between normal worrying and anxiety in college students, offering strategies such as counseling, scheduling, medication, meditation, sleep, and exercise as ways to improve anxiety.

  • Miscellaneous Articles on Anxiety and How to Cope: An interesting article in Forbes magazine discusses the issue of anxiety in college students and offers some advice on how to reduce your anxiety. Moving Away To College? Here’s How To Cope With Anxiety About Leaving Home. Another interesting article in Psychology Today entitled "How to Handle Stress and Anxiety in College" discusses the reality of stress and anxiety in college, including in psychology courses, and offers practical ways to handle the stress and anxiety that college can provoke.



What Can Students do to Decrease Anxiety on the First Day of College?

The first day of college is a significant milestone, and it's normal to feel nervous. Here are some tips to help calm those nerves:

  • Prepare the Night Before: Choose your clothes, pack your bag, and plan your breakfast. Reducing morning decisions can help lessen anxiety.

  • Arrive Early: Give yourself plenty of time to get to campus, find your classroom, and settle in before things begin.

  • Practice Deep Breathing: If you feel overwhelmed, take a moment for some deep breaths. Inhale slowly through your nose, hold for a few seconds, and exhale slowly through your mouth.

  • Stay Positive: Remind yourself that it’s okay to be nervous and that many others are likely feeling the same way. Approach the day with an open mind and a positive attitude.

Managing with anxiety -dealing with anxiety
Overcoming Anxiety - How do deal with anxiety

What Not to Say to a Student with Anxiety?


How do i stop being so anxious?
Overcoming Anxiety - Things not to say

Avoid minimizing their feelings with comments like "Just relax" or "It's all in your head." Instead, offer support by listening, acknowledging their feelings, and encouraging them to seek help.


College anxiety, while challenging, is a hurdle that can be overcome with the right tools and support. Recognizing the normalcy of these feelings, employing grounding techniques like the 3-3-3 rule, and actively seeking out resources and support can pave the way for a rewarding and enriching college experience. Understanding the right way to offer support is crucial. Mental Health America offers guidance on how to communicate effectively with someone experiencing anxiety.


Supporting Students with Anxiety


What Can Colleges & Universities and You Do to Help Students with Anxiety?

Colleges can play a crucial role by offering robust mental health services, awareness campaigns, and creating a supportive, inclusive campus culture. Creating a supportive environment is key. The JED Foundation works to protect emotional health and prevent suicide for teens and young adults. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and practicing self-care are essential. Active Minds provides strategies for students to cope with mental health issues.


Two good articles on the subject of Anxiety in College Students are listed below:


The bottom line is that there is more that needs to be done and that dealing with the crisis of anxiety and mental health issues in our colleges and universities will take greater recognition of the scope of the problem and a commitment to allocate resources.

Students need to know that it's okay to seek support and connect with others who understand what you're going through. College is not just about academic success; it's also about personal development and finding your path at your own pace. By utilizing these resources and strategies, students can navigate college anxiety more effectively, paving the way for a fulfilling college experience. Remember, seeking help is a sign of strength, and numerous resources are available to support students through this journey.


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