What Can You Do When You Go to College and Don't Like It?


You're Not Alone

college study group

A 2019 survey conducted by the American College Health Association-National College Health Assessment (ACHA-NCHA II) reported that 56% of college students felt hopeless during the year, 66% felt very lonely, 71% felt very sad, 45% felt so depressed they found it difficult to function, 66% experienced overwhelming anxiety, and 87% felt overwhelmed by all they had to do.

It's clear that college is not always easy to get used to.


Share Your Feelings

asian young adult on phone

It might be as simple as talking with a friend—whether they're at your college or another—to sort out your feelings. You should call mom or dad to let them know you're struggling—sometimes just the sound of a parent's voice can help a lot. If you continue to feel unhappy or depressed, most college offers guidance and counseling. Asking for help is the first step to feeling better. 

Think carefully about what it is that is making you unhappy, because if it's not anything specific about your school, it may be something inside of you that needs attention. 


Get Involved

college women's choir

Nothing can happen in your life if you don't make an effort. Get out of your dorm room and find something to do that interests you. There are clubs, intramural sports, volunteer opportunities, on-campus or off-campus jobs, and religious organizations to look into for a place to feel part of something. If you are invited to a club or volunteer event, go, even if you think it sounds uninteresting.

Put down your phone and go find your people! 


The Work is Hard

young man studying

College isn't easy. It may sound great in theory (four or five classes a semester, lots of free time, only a midterm and final in many courses) but the reality is that unless you stay on top of what you need to get done, you're bound to be disappointed in your grades—and yourself.

There are many distractions that can seem far more interesting than hitting the books, but don't let yourself be swayed by friends who want you to come out and have fun when you have work to do. Discipline is a tough but necessary tool to you need to succeed in college.

You will be much happier if you are on top of your schoolwork and confident in your ability to take a test or write a paper. 


Take a Weekend Off

mixed race woman at concert

You may just need a break from the college environment to clear your head and feel positive about college again. If you can go home for a weekend visit, by all means do it. A little down time with the family may be enough to carry you through to winter break or summer. If you can't get home, ask a friend to go with you somewhere nearby for the day that has nothing to do with school. Eat some good food, go to a concert, a ball game, or do some shopping.

Anything that will take you off campus for a day or two is bound to refresh your outlook.


Visit Other Colleges

college tour

If you are considering leaving your school because you just don't think it's a good fit for you, do some investigating—and not just online. Go visit friends at other colleges and universities and get a feel for what their schools are like.

If you are at a large university, check out a small college for a completely different kind of experience, and vice versa. If you do consider transferring, find out if the classes you have completed will transfer with you, or you could lose an entire year's worth of work (and tuition).


Don't Panic

bearded young man on phone

For most college students, time is the best tool there is to overcome feelings of dissatisfaction with their chosen school. You may feel like this is the worst week ever, but next week your situation could be completely different. Adapting to college life is a multi-faceted and sometimes overwhelming process that even the happiest student at times may find difficult to manage. Give yourself a break and realize that you are not alone. 

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  1. American College Health Association-National College Health Assessment. Spring 2019 Executive Group Summary.