Stress in College: How to Handle Stress While Learning

Consider this scenario; You are in the middle of your college semester, and your classes are starting to get harder. The number of assignments that you need to complete has grown, while your time to complete them has shrunk. On top of that, these assignments make up a large portion of your grade, so skipping them or doing poorly on them is not an option. If you were ever in this situation, What did you end up feeling? What did you do during these instances?

When I first started attending UAT, I got stressed a lot, and when I get stressed, I end up stress eating. Maybe, for others who had better control over themselves, they would have a slice of pizza or a burger and have that be the end of it. However, with how easily I got stressed, I usually found myself eating loads of food in a small time frame. By the time of my 5th semester, I’ve gained dozens of pounds from this bad habit. I have overcome that eating habit, but I still have many issues when it comes to stress. Now, when I get stressed, I become distant from people and easily angered. All of this prevents me from being productive.

In both situations, the stress of college life ended up causing numerous issues that directly affected me and my way of functioning inside and outside of school. I carried/still carry many of the issues around where I go, and it has negatively affected me. Many college students experience these same kinds of issues, unfortunately, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), forty million adults suffer from an anxiety disorder (ADAA, n.d).


Out of that forty million, “85% of college students reported they had felt overwhelmed by everything they had to do at some point…” (ADAA, n.d) and 30% stated that this stress has affected their performance in college.

What led to these high numbers?

Academics play a huge part in students’ stress (Walker, K, 2018). everything is based around a students grade, portfolio, and projects. Students are always on the clock, completing all of their individual and group assignments. They are, also, trying to make sure that their portfolio is up to industry’s standards, requiring them to tack on even more work to their schedule in order to populate their portfolio with top-level material. Along with all of this, the student is also trying to maintain their GPA so that they could keep their scholarships, job opportunities, and their presence at school.

There is also a financial burden that plays into a students’ stress (Walker, K, 2018). While many scholarships are given to those who have a certain GPA, some of these students might need even more money to function properly while going to school.

We looked at the academic and financial reasons for students issues, but we should also look into the life of a student to get a better understanding of their struggles. Since many college students have traveled from different parts of the world to get an education, they might not be used to the environment or culture of their university. They might experience homesickness (Walker, K, 2018), which would be the gateway for depression and anxiety. Many students live with other people, as so to make living expenses cheaper. This is not a problem, but then this creates the possibility of having roommate issues, some of these that require possible outside intervention. Then, in the case of a student's social life, that student might have rolled that back due to the onslaught of work and the job that they might have (Walker, K, 2018).  All of these either make it harder for the student to do things that help them relieve stress or actually make their current stress much worse. I can make a list of the things that can cause stress, but the fact of the matter is that there are hundreds of reasons why someone can be stressed. It might not even have anything even relevant to school; maybe their home life is not so good. Some of these reasons can be easily solved, while others might be too nuanced to benefit from a simple and easy solution. There isn’t really a one-size-fits-all solution to everyone's problems. However, from my experiences in college and with other people, I can give a few possible ways to help someone who is being weighed down by stress:


Be someone that can be spoken to/Be someone that can listen

Sometimes, a person just needs another person to speak to. You do not need to be someone's therapist, but just sitting down with this other person and allowing them

to vent to you about their struggles is very therapeutic. Show them that you understand their struggles and maybe even share some stories that relate to the situation. Just speaking about these things is a great way to handle stress. Who knows. Maybe you are stressed yourself, and finding someone else who is going through the same thing might make things easier for you.

Offer assistance if you can


If you can offer ways to help them with what they are struggling with. Maybe, if they are struggling in class, you can offer some pointers about the next assignment. If they are struggling financially, then

maybe help them find a job or to find ways to pay their debts. Offer them your shoulder that can share the troubles with them, so that they do not feel alone and that they have someone to look towards.

Take into account what you are doing

I am not trying to say that you are the main reason why this person is stressed. However, acknowledge how the things that you do and how they affect the other person because this could mean the difference between helping them or hurting them more. If talking to them when they do not want to be spoken to does not help the situation, then don’t do it. But if sitting next to them when they seem down somehow brings their spirits up, then do that! Just be aware of the effect of your actions.

Make changes

Sometimes we are taking up too much at one time, and sometimes it is the things around us that are making things harder for us. Changing the layout of our life and removing some stressful factors might prove to your benefit. For example, let's say that you usually struggle to finish an assignment before a deadline because you are constantly working on other assignments instead of this specific one. Maybe change your schedule to where you are doing a bit of all of your assignments each day so that everything can become much more manageable. Or let's say there is a person who is doing something that makes things more difficult for you( a group member that does not show up, a person who talks behind your back, etc). Talking to them about the issue and/or removing them from daily life might prove to your benefit as well.

Speak to someone/Therapy

Be someone that can be spoken to/Be someone that can listen. Venting helps get all that stress out, while also opening up opportunities for others to give you some assistance for your struggles. But some of your problems might be better solved by talking to a therapist. In either situation, talking to others about your issue is therapeutic.

Take a break

You can say that this can be considered as you making a change. But, for this one, all you have to do is just stop. Stop whatever you are doing, lay back, and take a breath. Relaxing for a bit before you go back to the grind can help lower your stress and get your head together.

All of these are not blanket answers for everyone, as some people might be in very special situations that make it harder for them to get help. However, no one is incapable of resolving their issue. It’s only when they take the first step that things will get better.


  1. A. (n.d.). Mental Health and College Students. Retrieved June 19, 2019, from
  2. Walker, K. (2018, September 22). What Are the Common Causes of Stress in College Students? Retrieved June 19, 2019, from


Posted on Jul 24, 2019 1:54:53 PM by Hakim Ottey

Hakim Ottey

Written by Hakim Ottey

Advancing Computer Science major and Student Ambassador at University of Advancing Technology (UAT)


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