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How to Deal With Anxiety About Going to College

You spent years waiting for your high school graduation. You couldn’t wait to get out of those halls and start a new chapter in your life. Now, the time for graduation is closing in and you’ve narrowed down your top choices for college. Beginning your official journey to college is filled with new opportunities, adventures, and milestones…but also, yes, anxiety.

It’s common to experience a range of emotions during this time as you prepare for this new journey. No matter what is worrying you about this new chapter, know that you aren’t alone. If you are nervous about going to college, here are some tips to help guide you.

How to Deal With Anxiety About Going to College

Acknowledge Your Feelings

First, don’t be afraid to recognize and accept your feelings of anxiety. It’s okay to feel nervous about the unknown. Acknowledging your emotions is the first step towards managing them effectively. Many, if not all students, preparing for college are going to be nervous about various aspects of it. Even if they don’t admit it out loud!

Stay Organized

One of the best ways to combat anxiety is by staying organized. Create a schedule that includes your classes, study time, extracurricular activities, and self-care. Having a structured routine can provide a sense of stability and control amidst the chaos of college life. Create lists of things you need to accomplish before you start, as well. Whether that’s items you need to buy for your dorm or research on what all the campus will have to offer.

Practice Self-Care

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Taking care of your physical and mental well-being is crucial, especially during heightened stress. Make self-care a priority by getting enough sleep, eating nutritious meals, exercising regularly, and practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation.

Set Realistic Expectations

It’s natural to have high expectations for yourself, but putting too much pressure on yourself can exacerbate anxiety. Be realistic about what you can achieve, and don’t compare yourself to others. Remember that everyone’s college experience is unique, and taking things at your own pace is okay.

Step Out of Your Comfort Zone:

While feeling anxious about stepping out of your comfort zone is normal, embracing new experiences can be incredibly rewarding. Challenge yourself to try new things, whether joining a club, attending social events, or participating in class discussions. You might be surprised by how much you grow and thrive outside your comfort zone. Think of this as a brand new beginning for your life.

Focus on the Present Moment

Instead of getting caught up in worries about the future, focus on the present moment. Practice mindfulness by paying attention to your surroundings and engaging fully in whatever you’re doing. By staying present, you can reduce anxiety and enjoy the journey of college life.

Develop Coping Strategies

Identify healthy coping strategies that work for you when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Whether it’s journaling, listening to music, going for a walk, or practicing mindfulness, having a toolbox of coping mechanisms can help you navigate challenging times more effectively.

Celebrate Your Achievements

Don’t forget to celebrate your accomplishments, no matter how small they may seem. Whether it’s acing a test, making a new friend, or stepping outside of your comfort zone, take the time to acknowledge and celebrate your successes along the way.

Seek Professional Help if Needed

If anxiety continues to interfere with your daily life or becomes overwhelming, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. Most colleges offer counseling services where you can speak to a trained therapist who can provide support and guidance.

Remember, it’s normal to feel anxious about going to college, but with the right strategies and support, you can confidently navigate this exciting transition. Embrace the journey ahead, and trust in your ability to overcome challenges and thrive in this new chapter of your life. Reach out to learn more about therapy for young adults or anxiety counseling,

Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor at Ammirati Counseling
Terri A. Ammirati, LCPC, has 25+ years of clinical experience. She is a Certified Gottman Therapist and presents Gottman's "The Art and Science of Love" couples workshop.

Terri specializes in empowering clients to strengthen their relationships. She works with all aspects of relational distress and provides solution-focused therapy.
Terri A. Ammirati