Student life: The struggle is real

Lucia Villanueva
Lucia Villanueva
CareerLunch Team
5 min read

The challenges of student life and how to overcome them

Do you sometimes just feel exhausted? Don’t worry, you are not alone!
The student experience offers no shortage of opportunities for academic as well
as social and emotional development. That said, students also face significant
challenges, including managing financial strain, coping with the pressure to
perform well on exams and assignments, and navigating how to enter the workforce
after graduation. These stressors can become overwhelming if they aren’t kept in
check—in short: The struggle is real.

Student life, Chaos
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In addition to all the academic difficulties students face—such as their enormous workload and the long hours of independent study,
research, and writing—they understandably also want to go out, socialize with peers, and explore the city late at night.
This essentially adds to the irregularity of a student’s daily schedule (and equally irregular sleep schedule).
All things considered, it’s no surprise so many students find themselves feeling
frazzled by the end of the semester, or even by the end of a week.

Most professionals establish a stable routine during their careers, but there is no reason
to wait until your full-time employment to learn to manage your daily stress levels.

How to reduce stress as a student

Have you ever felt that there just aren’t enough hours in a day? The best way to deal with this feeling
is to cut down on the number of commitments you have while studying. Simplify your term-time schedule
by establishing what your priorities are and cutting out any obligations that aren’t adding value to your life.
Getting organized before the academic semester begins can help reduce your stress levels, which will
ultimately make you more productive. In the following, we will give you a few tips on
how to take a less-is-more approach to the student experience.

How to simplify your semester

Student life, Stickers all around
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We often hear people yearning for a simpler life. And while the first thing that comes to mind might be
a little farmstead in the middle of nowhere, you don’t have to become a hermit to make use of the principles
of minimalism to improve your life. As a student, you need to be ruthless when it comes to cutting down your to-do list.

Here are six ways to simplify your semester while improving your academic performance, enhancing
your student–life balance, and ultimately making yourself more attractive to potential employers.

1. Manage your time well

Time management has become such a buzzword recently that many of us just breeze past it when we see it in a text.

This time, don’t. Pause.

Really take a moment to think about how you’re using your time. Is most of your energy going into the things
you actually care most about? If the answer is no, think about re-evaluating how you are spending your time.

2. Prioritize your studies

While you will always need so-called ‘me time’, rushing from one commitment to another is not that.

Factor in all your academic meetings, lectures, and study hours first. Then, make sure there is enough
blank time blocked off in your schedule so you can take some real time off without always having to think
about what else you should be doing for your studies. After you have freed enough time for a decent
student-life balance, only then should you think about adding in extracurriculars—and also then,
only take on the ones you actually have time for.

3. Make a realistic budget and stick to it

Budgeting is a difficult but necessary task. Figuring out how much you can afford to spend on what per week,
and knowing exactly what your financial intake and expenditure are, will allow you to put money thoughts out
of your mind during the academic semester. That’s already one fewer thing to worry about, and you can then
dedicate the time you would have spent running through receipts and checking bank balances to your studies
and to your personal life instead.

4. Establish a daily routine (as far as you can)

Decision-making is draining. The average adult makes around 35,000 decisions per day.
When a decision has been made in advance—even about what to have for breakfast—it is
more likely to be approached logically and made based on facts.

Let’s take the breakfast example. If you wake up with no food in the house, you will need
a moment to decide whether to go out to buy cereal and milk and then come back home, or
whether to just grab a delicious snack from the bakery on the way to the lecture.

You are liable to make worse choices when guided by emotion and short-term desire
(after all, we all know muesli is less exciting than flaky pastry).
Establishing a routine and having things in place to see that routine
through will help you save both money and mental energy.

5. Don’t neglect ‘me time’ and self-care

Research has shown that taking breaks and doing the activities we enjoy makes us more productive
and improves our decision-making ability. So, if you want to sit down in the sun and read for
an hour, go to a yoga class, or just have a short chat with your friends, see those things as
essential self-care that will ultimately make you more productive.

6. Take advantage of the support available

There are plenty of resources out there to help you come to grips with the content of your
university course, as well as to ease the pathway to future employment. Seek them out and use them!

How to prepare for the exam period

Many students somehow get it in their heads that they must prepare for the exam period by themselves.
But this isn’t true at all! In fact, trying to go at it alone can often be detrimental to students’
performance. Don’t make things harder for yourself than they already are. Take advantage of the
knowledge and commitment of your fellow students by pooling your time together. This will save you
time, effort, and opens up opportunities to acquire new perspectives and share experiences.

There is no point, for example, in scouring through all your heaps of notes and re-summarizing them
into a semi-manageable collection of key points when you could save yourself that time by
collaborating with your friends or purchasing a concise overview of your lecture and exam material
that has been well-prepared by your fellow students.

If you’re studying in Switzerland, you could check out the Zurich-based platform that is facilitating a students-helping-students approach to
university exam prep by allowing students among other things to purchase and sell course notes.

How to use contacts to gain entry to the professional world as a student

Student life, Stickers all around
(Image source:

While part of gaining employment after completing a degree is certainly performing well at university,
employers are also looking for resourcefulness, tenacity, and people who take initiative.

You can put yourself in the best possible position to land a job you like by taking advantage of
the opportunities available to students to network. Most universities have excellent alumni programs,
which involve everything from mentorship schemes for students to graduate dinners to talks about working
in specific areas of industry. Take advantage of everything on offer. If you do, you will likely meet
people who will recognize your name when you begin applying for work.

Another way to make contacts is to look outside of your immediate university environment.
For example, check out the opportunities that CareerLunch
offers for students to meet employees and potential employers from a wide variety of
companies over lunch.

If it sounds too good to be true…well, it isn’t! You can browse the site to find the employers you’re
interested in meeting, and then apply for a lunch meeting using just your LinkedIn profile—no costs,
no CV, and no cover letter needed. This gives you the unique opportunity to learn more about the culture
of a company in an authentic way, gain an understanding of its team and work environment, and discover
possible career opportunities.