College, like anything in life, can have its ups and downs. With all those fun new friends, classes and activities comes the burden of responsibilities and semi-adulthood. Here are some common challenges you might encounter throughout your four years in college and some ways of productively dealing with them.

1. Roommates. If you’ve never shared a room, or if you’ve never shared a room with a person that you couldn’t yell at or tell on, having a roommate can be tough. Even if you like your roommate, it can be difficult figuring out boundaries and learning each other’s habits without stepping on any toes. While it’s unlikely that you’ll completely avoid all annoyances, there are ways to minimize them. First, start off with a clear set of ground rules. If you explain right away that you must be in bed at 9pm and that you are really possessive of your peanut butter, there’s a greater chance you won’t be disturbed and your protein won’t be stolen. Once you have the ground rules set, make sure you follow your side of things too, because, let’s face it, you’re not perfect either. Finally, make sure to address issues as soon as they come up. Yea, it is awkward bringing these things up, but it’ll get a lot more awkward three months later when you’re ready to pour pickle juice all over their bed.

2. Stress. This will be far and above the greatest issue that you deal with in college. And it won’t go away once you’ve settled in. It’ll stay for the whole four years…and then probably once you get a job. Lucky for you however, in college, there are many ways to let your stress out productively. One of the best things to do when you’re feeling stressed is to pinpoint what’s causing it and dealing with the problem head on. Most likely your issues will be: difficulty in class or general feeling of being overwhelmed. Don’t wallow! Make a list of all the tasks you have to work on along with due dates and start knocking out as many as you can. Visit your professors or TAs during their office hours and seek out tutoring. One of the best resources for stress management is your academic advising office; they can help you build up tolerance, figure out a better schedule or help with time management skills.

3. Confusion. This one is also quite pesky and persistent. There’s a lot to be confused about. What’s your schedule going to look like next semester? Should you get an internship over the summer? What are you going to do with the rest of your life? Is your major “correct”? Don’t panic, you’re not alone. Take comfort in the fact that college is actually the perfect time to figure these things out. Start with taking some general interest classes, they’ll give you an idea of what you do and don’t like. That way, when you’re choosing a major or planning your schedule, you can veer toward things you enjoy and that challenge you in a good way. Take advantage of the resources available to you such as the career services and advising office. They are not only there to “solve” problems, but also just to talk and help you figure some things out. Although it may feel like the world will end if you don’t make the right decision, this is the time to make mistakes and discover your interests. Both are absolutely fine!

4. “Grown-up” Stuff. On top of all the big stuff you’re dealing with, there’s also the little stuff that before, just got handled without you knowing. All of a sudden there’s laundry to be done, trash to be taken out and rooms to be vacuumed and no parents to do it for you. Unfortunately, you’ll just have to buck up and do it! The best thing to do is to create a routine, maybe even write it down somewhere, and follow it religiously. Make it a game, give yourself treats when you accomplish something. In the end, those chores are actually a great way to distract yourself when you’re waiting for that Chemistry grade to be posted.

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