4 Ways to Beat Freshman Stress

By the SMU Social Media Team

Congratulations, you’ve made it into university! But just because you’ve scored the grades to gain acceptance into that dream school, figured out the matriculation process, and had a blast at orientation doesn’t mean you’re prepared for the first year of uni life. In fact, it’s only just the beginning. This major transitional period is bound to be at least a tad stressful, but there are ways to avoid a panic attack and actually – gasp – enjoy being on campus:



1. Manage Your Expectations

Perhaps your notion of college life is shaped by one fraternity movie too many; or you’ve heard horror stories of seniors who breezed through their journey to uni, before crashing out at tertiary level. Try to set aside all preconceived ideas of what it’s like being a university student because everyone’s experience is unique. Instead, keep an open mind and embrace the new experience, no matter how hard it is to get out of your comfort zone.


2. Engage in (Real) Social Networking

Which brings us to the next point: Be open to making friends with uni mates from all walks of life. Your social world thus far might have revolved around a close knit of friends whom you’ve known since you were 7. Being in uni, however, thrusts you into a brand new social situation with thousands of unfamiliar faces. Instead of hiding within the confines of your Instagram feed, get out there and meet new people. This might mean joining an interest group, befriending a project team mate from a different country, or simply making conversation with a similarly lost-looking freshman trying to figure out how to get to the next lecture. We guarantee you’ll meet a friend, or 10, for life who would also happen to zap away any freshman year anxiety.


3. Have Fun – But Not Too Much Fun


Being a freshman also heralds in a new phase of adulthood. You’re a grown-up now, and gaining new independence — no curfews, fun parties — might come with the territory. But resist the temptation to totally let your hair down and stick to your instincts. Avoid situations that are potentially dicey, or new “friends” whom you have second thoughts about, and exercise that common sense that got you to college in the first place.


4. Know When to Seek Help

Being on your own — especially if you’re a foreign student — and being plunged into this new world is incredibly challenging. While everyone around you might seem to have made a million friends from day one, or manage to have aced every assignment without breaking a sweat, it doesn’t mean they’re having it easy. It might be tempting to put on a brave front while you’re crumbling inside. But “freshman blues” could escalate into full-blown anxiety or depression. Recognise the signs of more serious issues like being unable to sleep or wake up in the morning, and make a confidential appointment with an SMU counsellor at counselling@smu.edu.sg or Tel: 6828-0786 on a weekday between 9am and 5pm to help cope.

But if you’re more comfortable speaking with a peer, SMU Peer Helpers –  a group of full-time undergraduate students trained in helping skills who work closely with the professional counsellors – are there to lend a listening ear and offer emotional support. You can reach out to them at peerhelpers@smu.edu.sg.

If you want to find out more about SMU Peer Helpers here are more blog articles: AskASenior: I’m feeling stressed. Who can I talk to? and SMU Peer Helpers: students helping students