Things to Remember When It All Goes Wrong

By Sarah O’Brien

Whether you’re a first year grappling with timetables or a fourth year staring down the barrel of an FYP, college life will inevitably go a little south from time to time. When that happens it’s crucial to have coping strategies on hand to help you navigate the difficult times writes Sarah O’Brien.

Whatever challenges you’re facing it’s important to know you’re not alone. Talking through classwork, study strategies and deadlines with your peers or lecturers can really help clarify things at college. A burden shared is a burden halved after all. You’ll quickly find that behemoth sociology essay you’ve been struggling with is doing everyone else’s head in too. You’re in good company.

Final year students in particular, who’ve been subjected to ill-fated tales of thesis submissions, are liable to experience anxiety. The word QCA becomes the term du jour whispered in a grave fashion outside lecture halls, while classmates, whose attendance was previously so infrequent, are now the first bums on seats in lectures. Every week is a golden week and students now cling to each other for solidarity.

Thinking your future hangs in the balance with every thesis proposal and essay submission is overwhelming at times. For those days when you just can’t take any more college talk remember this:

Everything is transient

You know that group presentation you’ve been dreading? Yes that one, well newsflash it will come and go irrespective of how you feel about it and there’s a great comfort to be derived from that. Sure you might hate public speaking and go puce-faced and weak kneed at the suggestion of it, but it won’t kill you and tomorrow is always another day.

Some things are out of your control

This is another incredibly freeing realization. Always try your hardest to achieve your dreams and goals, but you can’t give what you haven’t got and that’s OK too. Accepting that there are some things outside of your control does not mean giving up, it just means that you’re smart enough to know you need to try another avenue.

Much of this won’t matter in a few years

On your worst days, when everything seems impossible, ask yourself what will matter in 5 years time. Will you still be upset about having to repeat a semester or that you didn’t get the Coop placement you wanted? Will it even matter? By asking yourself these questions you’re gaining perspective and staying grounded, crucial life skills needed to see yourself through your college career.

You’ve overcome hurdles before

You’ve been in the black pit of despair before and come out the other side, slightly sooty but all the better for it. Maybe you’re an early school leaver who finally got the confidence to attend university, or a single parent who has struggled finding day-care between lectures, but you have overcome huge hurdles before-everyone has. Don’t bury your head in the sand. Face your problems head on, you’ve done it before and you can do it again.

It’s OK to ask for help

Asking for help is not the sign of a weak person but rather a strong one. It takes a lot of courage to recognize when you need help shouldering the burden. Your classmates, lectures, counselors and SU staff are always on hand to lend an ear if you need to talk. Don’t suffer in silence, ask for the help you need to get you back on the right track again. Your college can’t help if they don’t know.

Just be good to yourself, know that everything has a silver lining and things are rarely as bad as they seem. Your college years will come and go so quickly-enjoy them.  But most importantly try not to sweat the small stuff because it’s never too late to start again.

*This article first appeared on


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