Why Do Students Hate College?

By Staff Writers

Published on February 4, 2021

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Why Do I Hate College

Students spend years preparing for college and most assume social and academic success will come easily. But sometimes expectation and reality don't align. There are many reasons students can end up disliking college, but not all is lost. Most issues that make students miserable can be resolved with a little time and effort. Find out the most common reasons why students hate college and how to fix them.

Common College Problems & What to Do About Them

Transitioning to college can come with a lot of changes, so it's only natural that not everything will go smoothly. Senior Admissions Advisor at Stony Brook University, Michelle Curtis-Bailey, and academic success coach and strategist at Advanced Academics, Veronica Schofield, offer their insights and expertise to help students who are struggling find solutions to common problems.

Your Classes are Boring

One of the most appealing aspects of college is being able to choose from a huge array of classes and take those that pique your interests. But not every course is going to keep you on the edge of your seat. Because of general education, or core, requirements and major-specific prerequisites, many college students have very little freedom to choose their courses until their junior and senior years. And it's likely that some required courses are going to be outside a student's area of interest.

What to do About It

  • Figure out what's not working
    “Unfortunately, a lot of the time when students can't stand their boring classes, it has nothing to do with the class content and it is instead because of their professors,” says Schofield. “The professor's attitude and teaching style can make or break a class, regardless of how interesting a student finds the subject.” When you next sign up for classes, do some research on professors before you sign up. Ask other students if they liked a professor's teaching style or do some research online.
  • Get creative with core requirements
    “Some colleges have core requirements that can be met with a variety of courses,” says Curtis-Bailey. “Do some early ‘investigation' by talking with some faculty and maybe even other students who may have taken those courses so you can take what is in alignment with your interests and skill sets.” Think about pre-reqs and general ed classes as opportunities to explore.
  • Work your electives
    Whether students pepper in some electives each year to mix up their schedule or hold off so they can get pre-requisite courses out of the way as quickly as possible, electives can help students add some variety to their curricula.
  • Re-examine your major
    If the boring classes are part of a major requirement, pinpoint whether it's the topic that's uninteresting or something else. Many factors can affect the quality of a class, but if it's definitely the subject matter, students may consider exploring other majors.

Resources & Tools

  • Rate My Professors
    “I recommend my students look up their professors on Rate My Professors before registering for their classes to ensure other students haven't reviewed the professor as being mind-numbingly boring and dull,” says Schofield.
  • Your advisor
    They can help you create a well-balanced schedule and plan for future terms.
  • Your schoolmates
    Ask around and get details about specific classes and professors. When all else fails, classmates are also excellent sources of commiseration.

You Miss Your Friends and Family

Even students who couldn't wait to get some space from their family and high school crew can find that after a few weeks, their absence just doesn't feel right.

What to do About It

  • Give it time
    Students are used to seeing their friends and family every day, and the sudden void can be jarring. Adjustment takes time. Remembering to be patient and taking the opportunity to focus on yourself can help you cope with homesickness.
  • Plan visits
    It's never too early to plan visits to friends, whether it's a quick weekend trip to visit a friend's school or a longer trip over an upcoming break. Schools often have designated days for parents to visit, too, to give students a mid-term boost.
  • Stay connected
    “Something that has helped my clients in the past is organizing weekly Skype calls with their family, and have it scheduled so everyone knows the time every week,” Schofield says. “I've had students attend their family's weekly Sunday dinners via Skype. This is a good opportunity for students to catch up with their parents and siblings and let them know all the exciting things going on at school, while also providing some time for them to talk about less exciting things, like worries and fears.”
  • Chronicle your experience
    Students who like to get creative can use their first-year experiences to put together a scrapbook or journal to give to their families. Letters, photos, doodles or whatever else strikes your interest can mimic in-person conversations about day-to-day life. When complete, they also make a nice gift for parents.

Resources & Tools

  • Video chat apps
    Facetime, Google Hangouts and Skype are all good options to try.
  • Flights by StudentUniverse
    This app is designed specifically to help students book discounted flights to help them get around easily. Use it to plan a trip to your best friend's new town.
  • Scrapbook apps
    Products likeScrapBook – Tell Your Storyallow users to make digital, sharable scrapbooks complete with photos, videos, notes and audio recordings.

You're Burning Out

Balancing school with other aspects of life is challenging, and when students find schoolwork is taking up all their time, they can burn out quickly.

What to do About It

  • Make time for downtime
    When students' social and emotional health are not in check, their academic lives can suffer, too. The push to get ahead can be overwhelming, but without regular breaks, students risk getting overloaded. A short mental break to spend time with friends or do something unrelated to academics can help students feel refreshed. Schofield recommends students check with campus resources to help develop time management skills and personalized plans.
  • Review your schedule
    Sometimes it's hard to see that there actually is free time. “Take a look at your schedule and see where you actually spend time,” suggests Curtis-Bailey. “Track your schedule for a full week, including exactly how much time you spend in class, studying, getting ready, eating, working or volunteering, working out, etc. At the end of that week, you'll see that there are chunks of time you dedicate to ‘other activities'. When it comes to time, it can seem like there isn't enough, but if you don't track it and see where you are spending your time, it's easy to feel overwhelmed that you can't do all that you want to do.”
  • Lighten your load
    If students are really struggling to make time outside of studying, it might be appropriate to take fewer credits next semester. Remember that not only should there be room for fun in college but that workloads vary from term to term, depending on the classes. Talk to an advisor about how to balance your credit load.

Resources & Tools

  • Scheduling apps
    Try an app likeiStudiez Proto help manage your schedule, or even an old-school physical planner.
  • Your advisor
    They're pros at helping students figure out their schedules and manage college life, and they can point you to other resources that may be available on campus.
  • Your professors
    Get in touch with potential professors and ask them about the course load and how much time they expect students to put into the class.

You Haven't Made Any Friends

Some students go to college and make friends right away, but for many, it's not as easy as it looks. Having no one to talk to or spend time with can make for an isolated experience.

What to do About It

  • Participate in residence life activities
    This can be an easy step for students who live on campus to develop relationships with those in the same hall. The people they live with may end up being friends out of convenience, but it's a start in developing a larger social pool and becoming more confident talking to new people.
  • Join a club
    Joining clubs is great for on-campus and commuter students alike, and it ensures that students will meet people with at least one thing in common. “Once you meet people who share similar interests as you, that's a great way to ‘break the ice' and have a common point where you can begin to form friendships from there,” says Curtis-Bailey.
  • Venture off campus
    Some colleges are situated in areas where there isn't a lot going on away from school, but students who attend schools in bustling areas can try making friends off campus. Go dancing, become a regular at a nearby coffee shop, go on nature tours or become a volunteer. These can be great opportunities to meet people in different environments.
  • Take the risk
    It may seem awkward, but students can make friends by talking to a person they sit next to in class. “If you're just starting to stretch your ‘friend making' muscles, chatting it up with the person sitting next to you in class is a great way to start getting the courage for making new friends outside of class,” says Schofield. You're probably not the only person looking for friends. Your classmate might be grateful for the extra conversation or invite to lunch.

Resources & Tools

  • School-affiliated apps and social media groups
    It's not uncommon for schools to create apps to help students navigate college life and get familiar with school culture. RAs may also use social media to help students get involved without the discomfort of face-to-face interaction.
  • Campus Life list of clubs
    Many schools make it easy for students to browse clubs, teams and Greeks based on their interests.
  • Meetup
    Find groups of people linked by a common interest, on and off campus.

Being an Adult is Hard

Students probably expect to feed themselves and do their own laundry when they go off to school, but they may be surprised to find out how much more they have to keep track of. Managing financial aid deadlines, paying bills, making medical appointments and getting around without a car to borrow can put a damper on the idyllic college experience.

What to do About It

  • Take it in stride
    “This is a great time for you to be the manager of your educational process and journey to begin developing the muscles necessary for self-advocacy and accountability,” says Curtis-Bailey. Schofield agrees and notes that after having the help from their parents for the past 18 years, adjusting can be rough for students. She suggests students simply go with it.“It's all a learning curve, and the best way to get over the overwhelm is to just roll with the process. There is no time to learn like the present.”
  • Break it up
    Looking at everything that needs to be done on top of schoolwork can make tasks seem insurmountable. Curtis-Bailey suggests students focus on what they can control and seek help from an advisor or campus ally for additional support.

Resources & Tools

  • Your advisor
    “A great place to discuss this is with your academic advisor, who can serve as a resource to help map out your journey and break it down into manageable steps that are more realistic to you,” says Curtis-Bailey.
  • To-do list apps
    Apps likeWunderlistcan help you list out and manage what you need to accomplish in any given day or week.
  • A success coach
    “If you're seriously having problems juggling everything you need to do, I recommend speaking to a counselor at your college, or seeing about hiring private help in the form of a success coach to help you get through everything you need to do,” says Schofield.

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