For Freshmen. By Freshmen.
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Nov 12 2016
by Anna DiGiacomo

7 Upperclassmen Give Advice on How to Get Through Stressful Times in College

By Anna DiGiacomo - Nov 12 2016

Upon taking a step back, it's impossible not to appreciate the simple beauty of autumn. From the lustrous trees speckled with vibrant leaves to the cool breezes gently hinting at the cold winter to come, it’s a time of transition and change.

Yet, for all its incomprehensible beauty, the leaves are hardly the only things falling on college campuses this autumn. Students report harrowing tales of bank accounts depleting, motivation perishing and GPA’s deteriorating. It seems just as the fall leaves are piling up on college campuses, so are the responsibilities piling onto college students. However, unlike the seasoned veterans of the upperclassmen, freshmen don’t know how to handle this increase in stress.

In light of this crisis, Fresh U interviewed college upperclassmen to gather real advice about weathering this season.

1. Find an outlet.

A computer science major at UNC-Chapel Hill, junior Luke DiGiacomo is certainly well-acquainted with stress. The best way to deal with it, he explains, is to find some kind of outlet or hobby. However, he also warns of joining things that are too time-consuming or require real commitments.

"You need to find something low-key that doesn't expect too much of you. But if you can't find something, just make up your own."

This is how Luke ended up becoming the founder of the Carolina 4-Square Club. To be honest, it really started out as a joke, he explains. Yet it soon became so popular that he eventually yielded and filled out the official paperwork.

"Now we play every Friday afternoon and everyone's welcome. Just failed a test? Great — come play 4-square, meet some great people and forget about it. Life moves on."

Image courtesy of Carolina 4-Square Club

2. Reward yourself for dumb stuff.

This pro tip comes from Caitlin Davis at the University of Asheville. A senior political science major, Caitlin says she totally understands the struggle.

"There have been so many nights where I would just stare at my homework for literal hours. I couldn't bring myself to do it. I didn't understand it and I knew it was wrong, so what was the point?"

Naturally, her solution was to start bribing herself. It started small, she explains. Sometimes her reward would be a piece of candy for finishing a problem or reading a complete paragraph. Other times, she would go out for Starbucks if the assignment was particularly difficult.

"Am I proud of it? Nah, not really, it's kind of sad, but it got me through my freshman year."

Image courtesy of C W vid Flickr Creative Commons

3. Eat healthier.

A senior at New York University, Casey Moore is a firm believer that you are what you eat. If you eat like crap, Casey says, usually you'll feel like crap.

"You don't have to go on a cleanse or anything, let's be realistic. However, a lot of times when I'm feeling really crappy, I'll also realize I've eaten nothing but pizza for three days."

Sometimes a slight change in diet can really get you out of your funk. Even if you don't specifically change your diet, Casey says just avoiding some of that 'comfort food' during tough nights can help.


4. Call your parents.

Sometimes mother really knows best, explains Ahmaya Smalls. A sophomore biology major at UNC Chapel Hill, Ahmaya says she really struggled freshman year.

"Everything was so different and so hard. I couldn't understand how people were making A's when I was struggling for a low B! And nevermind a 4.0 GPA, that went out the window the second week." 

So Ahmaya did what any self-respecting college student does upon reaching the end of her metaphorical rope — she called her mom. To be fair, she explains, there isn't much your parents can actually do. However, there is a certain comfort found in sharing your troubles with your mom and having her tell you she's proud regardless.

"If it wasn't for my mom, I don't know how I would have done it. I think I called her every day during finals, I don't know how she put up with me."

Image courtesy of Robert Minkler via Flickr Creative Commons

5. Take long, hot showers.

Although it may not the most environmentally conscious thing to do, the water bill is included in your tuition so you might as well abuse it. At least, that's how UNC Wilmington senior Ashley Wells feels.

"One of my favorite things to do after a long stressful day is to take a ridiculously long shower. Sometimes, I swear, I physically feel the tension leaving my body."

6. Host movie nights.

A journalism major at Duke University, Rebecca Church explains having a Sunday movie night was one of the greatest parts of her freshman year. College is interesting because everyone there is so different than you, she says.

"Of course, you know this going in, but it sometimes comes up in the strangest areas. For my roommate and me, it was movies."

Rebecca explains that she was shocked to learn her roommate hadn't seen the classics, such as The Lord of the Rings or even Star Wars. Likewise, her roommate was equally disturbed to learn that Rebecca hadn't seen Clueless or Titanic.

"In the end, we compromised. We decided to get our work done early so that Sunday night could be movie night and we would take turns picking that week's movie. It was a great way to relax and get to know each other."

Image courtesy of waferboard via Flickr Creative Commons

7. Find a puppy or a furry substitute.

Michael Hall, a junior economics major at Appalachian State, shares his favorite form of stress relief. He explains that there are a lot of service dogs and in-training service dogs on his campus. As such, there's always a furry shoulder nearby to lean on when need be.

"They actually encourage you to come pet the dogs because it helps socialize them. So they get to further their training while you get an endless puppy supply. Its a win-win."

Image courtesy of Jeff Shapiro via Flickr Creative Commons

All in all, with all the stress and responsibility college forces upon inexperienced freshmen, some form of relief must be found. Whether it's taking a lazy weekend, hunting down every dog on campus or talking a friend's ear off, no one will fault you. "You do what you gotta do," Luke DiGiacomo explains, "And by sophomore year, you'll have figured out what works best for you. You just gotta get there".

Lead Image Credit: Pexels

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Anna DiGiacomo - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Anna is a freshman Strategic Communications major at UNC Chapel Hill. She played varsity soccer in high school and besieged the student body with libertarianism. She now spends her time annoying her roommate, catching Bruce Springsteen concerts and getting lost while pretending to camp. Follow her on Instagram @digiacomoa

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