Your college years are often described as the “best four years of your life,” but college can be a stressful experience for students. As an upperclassmen student, you might find yourself having an internal crisis about the direction, or lack thereof, your life is going in. At a certain point during your junior or senior years, you’ll be hit with the realization that you’re over halfway done with undergraduate education and begin to reflect on every opportunity missed during college. You might find yourself comparing your achievements to your peers’ and then panicking about your perceived shortcomings. Older adults will tell you that you have your entire life to find a career path, but unfortunately their words of advice often do little to quiet inner anxieties.
It should be comforting to know that you are not alone in worrying! Many other students have reported having a similar “mid-college crisis.” Like a mid-life crisis, this stage in collegiate life is characterized by an elevated level of stress, long amounts of time spent reconsidering decisions, and impulsive behavior. You might frantically look for new extracurricular activities or even consider changing your major. Remember that what you are going through is extremely common and try to employ these five tips to get you through this transitory period.
1. Commit to a new habit
Adopting a new habit can help you focus on the things you have control over and promote positive change in your life. It is important to be realistic about your capabilities and focus on gradual but consistent growth. Examples of habits that can help reduce anxiety include journaling, daily exercise, and improving your diet. Along with creating new habits, it can be helpful to eliminate unhealthy habits that can contribute to a negative state of mind. Remember to remain optimistic and avoid a perfectionistic mindset.
2. Talk about your worries with friends or mentors
It is very common to feel that you’re alone in your worries, but once you begin to open up to people you trust you’ll find that the opposite is true. It’s natural to question your purpose. Everyone you know has experienced self-doubt about their present situation and anxiety about their future. When you start an open dialogue with a trusted friend or mentor, you begin to process your emotions. Mentors can also be a reliable source of advice for a college student. This dialogue can strengthen your support network and increase your overall confidence.
3. Make a graduation “bucket list”
Instead of focusing on things should you have done, focus on things you can still do. An effective way to shift your focus from the past to the present is to make a graduation “bucket list”! This should be a list of achievable things you want to do before you walk across the stage on graduation day. Explore your college town, pull an all-nighter in the library, participate in local traditions or anything else you secretly have always wanted to do. Even if you have graduated, it is never too late to make a bucket list!
4. Take on an internship or part-time job
College should be about exploring your interests through trial and error, and internships pose a practical way to delve into new career opportunities. Additionally, internships can provide you with opportunities for career advancement in the future. Attend a college career fair or network with friends or relatives to see if they know of any internship opportunities in your local area. If you struggle to find an internship, a part-time job can also provide you with professional connections that can help you find work in the future. Consider reaching out to a temporary staffing agency to see if they have positions that match your qualifications!
5. Go on a trip with friends
This time may be one of your last opportunities to travel with some of the friends you’ve made in college. Planning a road trip with close friends can help alleviate your anxiety about the future. A spontaneous trip can push you out of your comfort zone and allow you to go somewhere you have always wanted to visit. This can also be an opportunity to get to know more about your friends. Make sure you pack the essentials before you hit the road!
It is easy to let anxiety about the future negatively affect how you are experiencing the present. Take things slow and try to appreciate the intricacies of college life. After graduation, you will look back with nostalgia at your time in college. Enjoy it while you can!