Does College Feel Harder Than It Should?
Are you new to college and not sure that you know what you want to focus on or if your school is a good fit for your major, personality or career goals? Or, if you’ve been in school for a year or two, are you finding that you still don’t know what you want to study and do after college? Are you struggling with motivation, worried that you don’t have the skills, knowledge or discipline needed to be successful and fear that you won’t get it together? Have you missed classes, failed to complete assignments on time and fallen behind? Does it feel like school is too hard and the demands and responsibilities of living on your own are too much? Do you feel that social events, video games or partying, and not spending enough time on school-related tasks easily distract you? Have your parents, professors or others in your life voiced concern about your school performance? Do you wish that you could figure out what you are good at, what you want to do and how to navigate school with more ease?
Living on your own for the first time, feeling pressured to figure out what to do with the rest of your life, and navigating a new school and social environment can be a struggle. It’s not uncommon to feel anxious, confused and even scared about the future. It’s also not uncommon to feel overwhelmed by the change and uncertainty that being in college can create. And, it can take time to figure out what your next steps are – even if you are already a few semesters into school.
Many Young Adults Struggle With School Issues and Transition
Making the leap into college comes with an uncharted territory of new and complex challenges, and the experience is different for everyone. In addition to figuring out school and how to navigate a new environment, people in their late teens and early 20s are also charged with figuring out who they are, what they want to do with their lives and how they want to be in the world. And, these are not easy tasks.
While school comes easier for some young adults, others need more help finding their strengths and places they can excel, as well as understanding and accepting personal limitations. You may be struggling with ADHD or an undiagnosed learning disability. You may be experiencing difficulties navigating a bigger, broader and more demanding educational and social environment. Or, there could be issues with time management, organization, managing a heavy schoolwork load, or balancing school with relationships and your social life. Whatever the cause of your school struggles, an experienced and trained BPS therapist can help you better navigate the complex school environment and get the help you need to be and feel more successful.
Therapy Can Be Highly Effective For Young Adults Struggling With School
With the right therapist, therapy for young adults struggling with school and transition can be very helpful. Therapy provides a space to be heard, understood and to develop healthy and effective skills to manage relationships, stressors and the “job” of being in school. A skilled and experienced therapist can provide a lot of relief and guidance during this tricky life transition.
Your BPS therapist can help you figure out what’s getting in your way of being successful at school. Through identifying and addressing the root causes of your school struggles, you can learn how to better navigate difficult school situations and make appropriate adjustments. You can also learn techniques to better manage time, organize schoolwork, and balance work and social life, which can alleviate a lot of anxiety and resistance. Your BPS therapist can also help determine if there are any undiagnosed issues – such as a possible learning disability or ADHD – that may be affecting your ability perform well in school. If so, appropriate next steps can be discussed and implemented.
In therapy, your BPS therapist will also work with you to develop better self-awareness and to identify strengths, weaknesses, triggers, and what environments and situations bring out the best in you. Your therapist can help you hone in on your passions and strategize ways to make school feel more manageable and enjoyable. Therapy can help you develop a new perspective toward your school experience. Rather than being one that feels anxious, uncertain and frustrating, a new perspective can lead to increased clarity, a more realistic approach, and even a little lightness and humor.
With help, it’s entirely possible for you to navigate a new way forward. You can feel better about yourself and more calm and clear about your college experience. While you may feel overwhelmed now, your therapist can help you break down the enormity of your school experience into smaller and more manageable goals and steps. And, by working with the right BPS therapist, you can start experiencing relief now, as well as become better prepared to handle academic and social difficulties in the future.
But, you still may have questions or concerns…
I’d really like to do better in school and I think that therapy could be helpful, but I’m concerned about costs.
This is your life and wellbeing, and the time to deal with your school issues is now. Addressing your school issues early into your transition into college can prevent a host of problems from occurring and make your college experience more productive and enjoyable. Investing in your academic development now may not only address the issues, but also prevent you from falling behind as schoolwork becomes more advanced and demanding.
Many people come to BPS having worked with other therapists who were not trained to work specifically with young adults and school issues or who they couldn’t relate with – which is a waste of time and money. At BPS, we’ll conduct a referral assessment and match you with a therapist who is trained and experienced in young adult school issues and whose personality is a good match for you. Once you find that good match, making a commitment to yourself may be one of the most valuable investments there is. Imagine getting your college career on track and feeling and functioning better on a regular basis. Ask yourself what that’s worth.
If money still is an issue, you can talk with your BPS therapist to see if they work on a sliding scale. They may also be able to help you find other lower cost resources in the community.
I think that therapy could be useful, but I’m overwhelmed as-is trying to juggle school and other responsibilities. I just don’t see how I can work it into my schedule.
The time constraints and stress that you are experiencing are very valid and understandable. Adjusting to a new environment, more responsibilities and an increased workload can be overwhelming.
A skilled and experienced BPS therapist can help you figure out ways to better manage your time and find balance and calm in your life. Therapy is not only a good place to figure out what’s keeping you from feeling successful in school, but it can also provide you with a space to figure out who you are, how you want to be in the world and what types of schedules and routines work best for your specific personality. And, there is no long-term commitment that comes with trying therapy. Although your schedule may feel too hectic to fit anything else in now, you may be surprised by how much more manageable your life feels even after a few therapy sessions.
I am so overwhelmed and confused right now. I wouldn’t even know where to start or what to ask for help with.
Therapy is a good place to start. Your BPS therapist can help you identify and address the issues in your life that are causing you to feel highly stressed and confused. With your therapist’s help, you can begin to identify tasks and goals and break them down into more manageable steps so they feel more attainable. Right now, you are at a time in your life that is full of change and personal discovery, which can feel very overwhelming. In therapy, you can learn to better understand yourself and get comfortable with who you are and recognize your personal potential. You can identify your strengths and build on those strengths, which can lead to increased confidence, enjoyment and calmness now and in the future.
We encourage you to schedule a referral assessment with a BPS therapist, trained by BPS Director, Dr. Jan Hittelman. We will work with you to determine what your specific issues are, if additional psychological testing is warranted, and ensure a good match between you a BPS therapist in terms of personality, style and expertise.
You can also check out our free, online therapist directory, which will match you and with a therapist who has expertise working with young adults on school issues.
BPS therapist Karen Wilding, LCSW, helped create the content for this page. Karen served as the director of counseling at the September School for more than a decade and has been working with young adults on school issues since 1986.