College is a transformative time in life. Obvious statement, right?
Students are dealing with academics, personal changes, financial issues, new relationships, and new responsibilities.
But which year would you say is the most stressful?
Freshman year? When everything under the sun is new?
Sophomore year? When your carefree freshman year is over and you need to start buckling down?
Junior year? When the ‘real world’ is starting to come into sight and that real job thing is becoming, well, real?
Senior year? When final decisions are being made that will affect the next chapter of your life?
There’s a strong argument to be made for junior year.
During the third year, students are typically facing the most demanding courses in their major. These courses deep dive into the subject matter and require an increased level of focus and effort.
Classes, exams, research projects, and grad school testing all blend together to create a perfect storm.
The sheer volume of work, combined with a need to maintain a high GPA for grad school or job applications, generates an awful lot of stress.
Junior year is also a pivotal time for making career decisions. It’s time to figure it all out. Well, as well as you’re able to. Internships need to be explored. Personal networks need to be built. Resumes need to be padded.
Throw in either “Why haven’t I found anyone?” or “What am I going to do with my partner after graduation?” and the relationship side of things doesn’t ease the stress one bit.
Of course, every year can be stressful. And I sincerely hope that the enjoyment of college far outweighs the stress.
If you find yourself needing to talk through things, or if you want to develop effective tools to best manage the stress of college and beyond, please reach out. I’m here to help!
Dr. Wayne Bullock is an experienced licensed counselor in Washington D.C. specializing in the needs of gay men and the LGBTQ community. Wayne's expertise includes helping college students affected by anxiety, depression, and trauma.