Dear SAPC,

I’m feeling overwhelmed with school;  I have something due every week until the semester pretty much ends, not to mention midterms and keeping up with readings for each class.  I’m starting to think that I’m not cut out for this student thing.  I procrastinate to avoid feeling overwhelmed, but that just makes me even more overwhelmed and stressed later. I just want to drop out. This is too much.


Panicked Student

Dear Panicked Student,

Join the club— this is a common concern among all of us this time of year!  It’s very natural to feel overwhelmed, especially if you are just beginning your university career.  Here are a few things that will help alleviate this overwhelming feeling you speak of;

First things first; breathe!
We compromise the quality of our work when we rush and do things in panic, so whenever possible, take the time to breathe and calm your nerves. This isn’t to say that every time you feel stressed, stop doing whatever is stressing you out – this means approach it differently and take your time – if you know something is going to take you longer, allot more time for it.

Organize your Tasks & Time
Get a month-view calendar and write in all the assignments, midterms, projects that are due. Also add in anything else that will take your time (work, family events, etc.) So that you’re not tricking your mind into thinking you have more time than you actually do. This prevents being blind sighted. Spend the time now, to save stress later!  

Pick a motivator/Treat Yourself!
Instant gratification works wonders; we see it all the time. For example, as you mentioned, the instant gratification of not having to do the paper/reading/studying/etc. is essentially what leads to procrastination. Pick a motivator that will give you more reason to get whatever needs to be done, done. Tell yourself that you can go out with your friends this weekend, but only if you finish the paper first. Then tell your friends and hold each other accountable!

Use your resources
Form study groups, not only does it facilitate the sharing of information, but it forces us to do it. Ask for help, not only from other students, but teachers – office hours are there for a reason. Many teachers offer to proof-read rough drafts of papers (as long as it’s not the night before its due).  There’s also the writing and math centre and private tutors available if that’s what you prefer.

Start small
We’re not saying start writing your term paper on day one of class, let’s be realistic. Starting small means breaking things down into more manageable, less overwhelming pieces.  Divide the paper and semester into chunks. For example; “by week three, I will have decided on a topic and started research”

While all of the above is information an academic advisor or teacher can provide you, what sets philosophical counselling apart is that we ask YOU the questions to facilitate your own thought processes.

Why are you doing it? What is your driving force?  The belief, value and assumptions you are making to pursue this goal. The questions we ask ourselves and how we frame them are of particular importance. Rather than asking “why can’t I do this,” ask, “what can I do to do this?”  Remember why you’re doing it, and figuring out how won’t be as difficult anymore.

We hope this helps!  Feel free to contact us if you have any other questions or concerns.