A time to grow, learn and blaze a trail: college allows students to connect with the resources they will use to shape their careers and personal lives. But all too often, college students report compromising their mental health and physical wellbeing due to the stresses they encounter, much of it new and foreign as they begin to expand their horizons.
Addressing these university-level problems, are author, speaker and life coach Daniel Lerner and Dr. Alan Schlechter, a professor at NYU. Lerner and Dr. Schlechter co-authored U Thrive: How to Succeed in College (and Life). Here are five of his most effective suggestions for collegiate success:
Lerner and Dr. Schlechter encourage students to designate time in their schedules for laughter and leisure. According to research, students primed with positive emotions tended to work more collaboratively in groups and score higher on tests. Further, doctors induced with happy thoughts and memories better diagnosed patients than those in the control group. Students can incorporate happiness into their daily lives by decorating their rooms with pictures of their loved ones, eating their meals with friends or even with regular exercise.
In a new environment, even the most outgoing kids may find themselves in over their heads, especially in the first few weeks of the first semester. To combat loneliness, Lerner and Dr. Schlechter recommend that every student should join a club, organization or team that interests them. This can not only create an automatic social circle for students but also buff up their resumes for future work and internship positions.
Though their intentions may be well-meaning, parents often pressure their children into careers and majors that clash with their personalities or under-utilize their strengths. When students build their course schedules, Lerner and Dr. Schlechter note that they should do so independently, keeping in mind their own interests and desired areas of growth. Trained college advisers can also help direct students in sound directions when they feel lost or unsure.
Most students report high levels of stress at some point in their college careers, which is normal and common according to Lerner and Dr. Schlechter. However, he urges students to view their stress as excitement and their challenges as new adventures. In a Harvard study, students who went into exams feeling 'excited' instead of 'nervous' scored better than their more anxious counterparts.
Students should not only foster relationships with fellow peers but also bond with professors. This, according to Lerner and Dr. Schlechter, not only helps students stay engaged in the classroom but also helps them feel more comfortable asking questions and additional help. He said graduates who reflected on their college years reported having a professor or mentor who cared about them and shared their interests as a key ingredient to their success.