I have thought about this topic since freshman year of college. I’ve seen people wracked with stress, and I wish that there was perhaps a smoother environment for everyone to enjoy. While that’s not realistic for most people, it is possible to live college and still have easy sleep, high grades, and absolute success.
Here, I share my story on how I live college stress-free.
At college I keep hearing the same thing: “I’m stressed,” or, “It’s going to be a crazy week.” I totally understand that with jobs, full-time loads and peer pressure, people get stressed. But for me, I rarely get stressed, if ever at all.
My method is simple: I form a goal in my academics, I act towards that goal, and I expect it to happen. Right now, my goal is to graduate summa cum laude, and all my daily habits progress in that direction. Any given day, you’ll see me get up early, start homework immediately and work through the weekends. Before major projects are due, I begin them a week or two early, and I never freak for tests or speeches. Even if I have three Finals in one day, I remain calm, knowing that I had memorized my terms and recited my speeches till they flowed.
But I still hear people say, “I’ve got three tests and can’t sleep!” and I keep seeing the underlying issue of attitude. Most people expect stress coming into college, but I always expect to get good grades and sweet sleep. Even if I score lower than I wanted, I keep the attitude, I’ll do better next time, and I revise my projects till I am confident they meet my professors’ approval.
Perhaps this approach seems too optimistic for most people, yet my habits have been tried true because of my attitude. I have repeatedly told myself, “Every day, you get good grades,” and every day, I keep affirming my goal. I say, “Thank you, God, that I increase in wisdom and favor with You and with man,” and I see that favor happening in my life. Never once have I missed a class or pulled an all-nighter. Almost always my grades meet my expectations, because often, my studying has paid off and my rapport with professors has remained solid.
People may wonder if I’ve ever gotten stressed, and I answer yes. In freshman year, I worried that my GPA would fall short or that I couldn’t handle subjects outside my major, but in segments, I learned to control my habits by taking each assignment one day at a time.
Many times, the upper-level classes challenged my stamina. In my English classes, I’ve been assigned projects as large as five to ten pages due within a week or two, yet my momentum of starting homework early propelled me to finish smooth drafts. In a philosophy class, I was assigned papers on topics I had never tackled before, and though I stressed out till I broke a pencil, I managed to crank a sufficient thesis for each paper, such as why St. Augustine argued for human free will.
In all these things, I’ve learned that if I ever lapse into stress, I push myself harder. I might read more quickly or seclude myself in the library, but always I say, “Tomorrow, I’ll do better.”
Part of my living stress-free is that I keep the vision for my career ahead of me, and that vision propels me through homework. My passion lies in writing children’s novels, and I get excited whenever I think about the hardbound cover of my novel, or the throngs of readers at my book signings. Nearly every day I see my literature and writing assignments as stepping stones to my career, knowing that each one helps fashion the writer I am now.
In all my work, whether analyzing Shakespeare or grappling with philosophy, I keep my college career in perspective. Beginning my assignments early and keeping my sleep steady are two such aspects of living stress-free, but the most important aspect is my gratitude. I keep thanking God for bringing me to Northwestern, knowing it is the perfect place where I’m meant to be right now. That joy sends a zing of energy through my spirit and helps keep the stress at bay.