How to Reduce Academic Stress

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Amidst all the aspects of college that students deal with on a daily basis -- finances, friendships, roommates, romantic relationships, family issues, jobs, and countless other things -- academics always need to take priority. After all, if you don't do well in your classes, the rest of your college experience becomes impossible. So how can you deal with all the academic stress that college can easily and rapidly put into your life?

Fortunately, there are ways even the most stressed-out student can cope.

Take a Good Look at Your Course Load

In high school, you could easily manage 5 or 6 classes plus all of your co-curricular activities. In college, however, the entire system changes. The number of units you take has a direct connection to how busy (and stressed) you'll be throughout the semester. The difference between 16 and 18 or 19 units may seem small on paper, but it's a big difference in real life (especially when it comes to how much studying you have to do for each class). If you're feeling overwhelmed with your course load, take a look at the number of units you're taking. If you can drop a class without creating even more stress in your life, you might want to consider it.

Join a Study Group

You may be studying 24/7, but if you're not studying effectively, all that time spent with your nose in your books might actually be causing you more stress. Consider joining a study group. Doing so will help hold you accountable for getting things done on time (after all, procrastination can be a major source of stress, too), help you better understand the material, and help you combine some social time with your homework. And if there isn't a study group you can join for any (or all) of your classes, consider starting one yourself.

Learn How to Study More Effectively

If you aren't sure how to study effectively, it won't matter if you study by yourself, in a study group, or even with a private tutor. Make sure that all of your efforts to study are matching up with what your brain needs to retain and truly understand the material.

Get Help from a Peer Tutor

Everyone knows those students in class who clearly are mastering the material -- and not having a problem doing so. Consider asking one of them to tutor you. You can offer to pay them or even deal in some kind of trade (maybe you can help fix their computer, for example, or tutor them in a subject they're struggling with). If you aren't sure whom to ask in your class, check with some of the academic support offices on campus to see if they offer peer tutoring programs, ask your professor if he or she can recommend a peer tutor, or simply look for flyers on campus from other students offering themselves as tutors.

Utilize Your Professor as a Resource

Your professor can be one of your best assets when it comes to reducing the stress you feel in a particular course. While it may at first be intimidating to try to get to know your professor, he or she can help you figure out what material to focus on (instead of feeling overwhelmed by thinking you have to learn everything in class). He or she can also work with you if you're really struggling with a concept or with how to best prepare for an upcoming exam. After all, what could be better for helping you reduce your academic stress than to know that you're super prepared and ready to ace the upcoming exam?

Make Sure You Always Go to Class 

Sure, your professor may just be reviewing the material that was covered in the reading. But you never know what additional snippets he or she might put in, and having someone go over material you may have already read will just help to solidify it in your mind. Additionally, if your professor sees that you've been in class every day but are still having problems, he or she might be more willing to work with you.

Reduce Your Non-Academic Commitments

It can be easy to lose your focus, but the main reason you are in school is to graduate. If you don't pass your classes, you don't get to stay in school. That simple equation should be motivation enough to help you prioritize your commitments when your stress level begins to get a little out of control. If you don't have enough time to handle your non-academic responsibilities in a way that doesn't leave you stressed all the time, take a moment to figure out what needs to go. Your friends will understand.

Get the Rest of Your College Life in Balance 

Sometimes, it can be easy to forget that taking care of your physical self can do wonders for reducing your stress. Make sure you're getting enough sleep, eating healthy, and exercising on a regular basis. Think about it: When's that last time you didn't feel less stressed after a good night's sleep, a healthy breakfast, and a good work out?

Ask Upperclassmen for Advice With Difficult Professors

If one of your classes or professors is greatly contributing to, or even the main cause of, your academic stress, ask students who have already taken the class how they handled it. Chances are you aren't the first student to be struggling. Other students may have already figured out that your literature professor gives better grades when you quote lots of other researchers in your paper, or that your Art History professor always focuses on women artists on exams. Learning from the experiences of those who went before you can help reduce your own academic stress.

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Your Citation
Lucier, Kelci Lynn. "How to Reduce Academic Stress." ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021, Lucier, Kelci Lynn. (2021, February 16). How to Reduce Academic Stress. Retrieved from Lucier, Kelci Lynn. "How to Reduce Academic Stress." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 27, 2023).