Establishing a strong support system at university
Whether you are a student at college or university, higher education is one of the most challenging things that any individual can put themselves through. Without a doubt, being a student in college or university is a unique experience, allowing you to grow in ways you never thought were even possible. However, there will be moments of struggle and that is why having a reliable support system that genuinely cares about you and wants to help you succeed is more important than you could possibly imagine. This is especially true if you have moved away from home to attend college or university.
Finding your clique on campus
The first notable difference any student will notice is that unlike high school, you will not see familiar faces throughout the day. If you happen to notice someone who is in all of your classes, you should reach out to them as potential study mates. However, if there are no such students, you might find that it is exceptionally hard to build connections because everyone else is in a different faculty.
However, if you are outgoing and able to make friends easily, it is important to cultivate those relationships, so you have someone to depend on, rather than realising in your darkest moments that there is no one to reach out to.
Joining a club or community or talking to a counsellor
If you are not as outgoing, an on-campus adviser might be able to point you in the direction of a suitable community club or activity you could thrive in.
From the on-campus gym or a student-run club, it is possible to find a niche to call your own. As they say, birds of a feather flock together and when you have like-minded people, it would be easier to form bonds and a support system. It would also help you build your portfolio or resume, especially if it allows you to showcase your skills.
Self-support is more important than soldiering on
Achieving academic excellence is important, it is true, but more than that it is important to take care of yourself first. You can retake classes. You can defer college or university for a semester, even a year if you want to. But your mental health and whole wellbeing is something that you should be prioritising before everything else – including academic success. Achieving perfect grade point averages means nothing if you do not have a firm handle on your mental state at the end of it all. Make a point to constantly prioritise you – even if it means dropping classes while you do so.
There will be struggles no matter which path you take
It does not necessarily matter what it is that you want to do once you graduate. Whether you want to become a diesel mechanic, an IT security member, an author, a doctor, or even the owner of a digital marketing agency, at the end of the day the academic journey to get there is going to have its highs and lows.
Sometimes the lows come in the form of a course you cannot seem to grasp, or an assessment block that is impending, and sometimes the lows come from feeling isolated and lonely, even detached, from everyone around you. First and foremost, understanding that these moments of struggle are just that – moments. As with the best moments, they will pass…even if it feels like an eternity before they do. What can often end up spelling out the fundamental difference between students who overcome struggle and those who do not, is the support system (or lack thereof) that they build during their time as a student in higher education.
You are who you surround yourself with
The single most valuable advice anyone can ever give you as a student is to create a support system for yourself that you would happily suggest for another person to have. Forging a strong and reliable support system while you are at university is the key to getting through even the roughest of patches. It goes without saying that the idea of being alone when struggling is a sad one, and it is definitely not one to be taken lightly. It is true when people say that you are a reflection of the ten, even twenty individuals you cherish the most. The first step to finding out who you are is surrounding yourself with people that you genuinely like, and that have your best interests at heart. At college or university, this means surrounding yourself with people who are going to help you study, keep you afloat when you struggle, and celebrate your wins with you – and vice versa. Anything else is secondary.
During your years in higher education, you are going to experience the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. This is the nature of college and/or university, it is the natural progression of the experience. Moments of struggle can be incredibly difficult to surpass, particularly if you have never experienced this type of struggle before. More than anything else, having a stable, loving support system during your time as a student is the central puzzle piece that will get you from here to graduation and beyond. The most important thing, at the end of any day, is feeling like you can get through the school year. Taking it one step at a time, without needing to rush, is a skill, and it takes time to master it. Allow yourself the time to practice. After all, practice makes perfect, right? And in the meantime, spend time with the support system you have created for yourself. You chose them for a reason. Do not take them for granted, and they will never take you for granted in return. It’s a genuine win-win.
Byline – Anton Lucanus is the Director of Neliti. During his college years, he maintained a perfect GPA, was published in a top cancer journal, and received many of his country’s most prestigious undergraduate scholarships. Anton writes for The College Puzzle as a means to guide current students to achieve personal and academic goals