How to Manage College Stress

A young woman works on her college applications at the computer

Quick Tips for Managing the Stress of College Admissions & Staying Organized and Focused


Did you know 42% of Gen Z students experience stress and anxiety around big events like applying to college.

Knowing how to properly and healthily manage stress is a lifelong skill that will serve you throughout your life. Deciding to go to college can be a stressor for some people, but only if they aren’t prepared.Here are some tools and tips for you to use to manage the stress of deadlines, and stay healthy, calm and anxiety-free throughout your college experience.

If you’re a sensitive person who is easily overwhelmed by stress, you may have what is known as a ‘reactive’ personality. This may mean that  you often grapple with negative emotions, or experience feelings of sadness, anxiety, and self-consciousness at a higher rate than the average person. 

When confronted with problems or challenging situations, you may have  a tendency to internalize them, assuming them as your own issues to address or your personal responsibility, even when they may not be directly related to you. Doubt about your capabilities and discomfort with yourself are common experiences for you. While these feelings are normal for everyone when making big decisions or changes in your life, they are easier to manage when you are prepared for them.

58% of GenZ students are considered  ‘resilient’. If you’re one of them,  you possess the natural ability to remain composed in the face of college stress. 

Your emotional responses are typically positive, and you effectively navigate challenging life situations. You adeptly manage stressors without being greatly perturbed by them. Worrying about outcomes is a rare occurrence for you, and you tackle issues with a problem-solving mindset, approaching challenges in a rational, analytical manner until they are successfully resolved.

Wherever you fall on the college stress scale, we’ve created a checklist you can follow to help you stay focused, organized and on-track. Consider this an essential tool for managing the stress of preparing for college and staying relaxed and resilient throughout the college application process.

A checklist of tools for managing stress

How to Make the College Application Process Stress Free!


Applying to college can be challenging because of the pressure to meet application deadlines, submit paperwork, and follow through. But with a good plan and some preparation, it doesn’t have to be so difficult. Here are a few tips to help you prepare for and manage college stress:

1. Start Early: Do your research to figure out your options and priorities as soon as possible. It’s not too early to start working on this when you are a junior. Make a schedule with all the important dates for applications, financial loan applications and deadlines for grants. Begin working on your college applications as far ahead of time as possible so you don’t have the stress of last minute scrambling to meet those deadlines.

2. Talk to People: Be sure to have a solid understanding of how you are going to finance this with or without your parents’ help. Discuss your goals with them and find out how they can help. Don't be afraid to ask for help from teachers, school counselors, and other adults who are knowledgeable and helpful.  They can give you good advice and support you when you're feeling nervous.

3. Relax: Don’t forget to include time for friends and fun when you’re making your college application schedule. Take breaks and find ways to relax when you feel stressed. Laughing with friends and family, taking a hike, deep breathing, meditation and yoga are all great stress reducers.

A serene figure meditates overlooking a beautiful mountain range

4. One Step at a Time: Break down the application requirements into small parts so you can check off each task as you accomplish it. This way you can see your progress as it is happening. It feels great and will give you an emotional boost when you finish each one!

5. Be Nice to Yourself: Remember, nobody's perfect. It's okay to make mistakes or feel worried sometimes. Accept that everyone goes through this and everyone makes mistakes. That’s no reason to beat yourself up or to get stuck in negative thinking. Instead, shake it off, and be kind to yourself.

6. Get Professional Help if You Need It: If you feel super anxious, it's okay to talk to someone who knows about these things, like a counselor or therapist. They can teach you coping skills and you can learn ways to feel better.

7. Learn About Colleges: Look at different colleges and find ones that match what you like and want to do. You want a place that helps you learn and feel good.

8. Ask Questions: If you ever don't understand something, ask the colleges for help. They have a team of admissions advisors who are ready, willing and able to help you.

9. Take Care of Yourself: Don't forget to eat well, sleep enough, and do fun things you like.

10. Stay Positive: Try to think happy thoughts instead of sad ones. If you catch yourself dwelling on negatives or fears, try poking holes in those fears instead of dwelling on them. Reframe your thinking to consider more positive ideas and actions you could be considering instead. This can help you feel less worried and more hopeful.

Remember, being nervous sometimes is normal. You're a great person, and you can handle applying to college. It might be a little hard, but you'll do awesome! Just believe in yourself and keep going.

If you need more help with the admissions process, please view this article on the Top 5 College Admission Consultants of 2023.

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