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Dealing With The Overwhelming Pressure To Succeed In School

Written by Christine Rees

As a student, we are paying so much money to attend college and/or university. What you don’t understand until you arrive is that your grades will not stay where they were. Marks drop in post-secondary, sometimes significantly. This can lead to piles of stress added onto an already very full plate. It can also lead to an overwhelming pressure to succeed in school by trying your absolute best.

Now, the doing your best part is fantastic! The overwhelming pressure… not so much. Unfortunately, we face this realization at some point. Typically, and most painfully, it tends to appear at the start of our post-secondary experience while we’re trying to find our educational groove. And it can feel unbearable, like a pressure closing in around us while we’re flailing our arms and trying not to drown under its weight.

So I encourage any of you who are feeling this way to please read these tips:

Stop Doubting Yourself

Head in hand

First off, the school accepted you for a reason. You BELONG here. That wasn’t a fluke or an accident, okay? So, stop torturing yourself. Your grades are expected to drop when you reach university. Remember all of those 80s and 90s you got? They’ll probably turn into 70s because university is harder. Take a few deep breaths and allow this information to sink in. It’s totally fine if you drop 10% from your high school grades. It happens to everyone. The best thing to do is feel out different studying methods until you figure out one that works for you.

Imperfection Is Fine

Frozen, let it go

Stop trying to be perfect. If you’re always second-guessing yourself, you waste precious time that could be utilized for something else. Just keep in mind that “done is better than perfect.

Prioritize

Check. Off my list. Never to be done again.

Ask yourself, what’s most important on my list of to-do items? What is worth more of my grade? Block off time to prepare for that in advance. Keep a planner on you and organize ALL of your school assignments, readings, and exams. When we think about all of the things that need to get checked off our to-do list, we tend to panic or turn lethargic. So, prepare for them and get ready to knock them out!

Study Groups

Community, "does anybody know how to study?"

Working as a team can feel more empowering. It may even feel like you can get through all of the work that needs to be finished. You can chat about exam topics and bounce essay ideas off one another. Help each other by acting as editing services. You are all in the same position anyways, so make friends and work together to accomplish your shared goal of graduating.

Talk To Someone

santa clarita diet

Talking it out helps lessen the overwhelming pressure to succeed because YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Other students are facing the exact same issue. You’re likely feeling anxious about your grades and worried that a lower average won’t land you that dream job. You have goals! Have that heart-to-heart conversation with someone and OPEN UP. If you let that bottle up inside you day-after-day while you’re trying your best—and perhaps still not achieving the grades you want—that frustration can explode out of you (not literally, that’s gross). But talking it out with someone will help you feel better because you’ll no longer be facing this problem on your own. You’re in it together.

Downtime Is Essential

brooklyn nine nine dance

Give yourself a break! Go to the gym. Take a nap. Watch a show. Go for a walk. Have a snack. Chat with friends. GO DO SOMETHING OTHER THAN SCHOOL WORK, PLEASE. It’s good for your mental health! Especially if it involves a quality night’s sleep or physical fitness.

Ask For Help

parks and rec, overwhelming need to succeed

There is absolutely zero shame in asking for help if you need it. University and college level education can be difficult to tackle. So, if you’re seeking guidance, find it. Your school should offer services that students can use when dealing with anxiety or this overwhelming pressure to succeed. They even have academic advisors and student services who can work with you towards building better study habits. Attend professor office hours and talk to them about any difficulties you’re facing in their class. Receive additional help if you need it, but never be too afraid to ask.

School can be overwhelming. There are TOO many assignments. TOO many exams. And way TOO many readings to barrel through. Top that off with a dropped percentage from high school and a heavy cost, and this creates an overwhelming pressure to succeed. But we all face this head on. Don’t worry so much, you’ll get through it.

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*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Student Life Network or their partners.