How to Avoid Burnout as a First Year College Student

We’ve all been there. We start the semester off strong, coming to all of our classes and getting ahead of our deadlines. We imagine ourselves getting straight A’s and being put on the deans list.

And then the burnout comes. And you start to miss a few classes, you stop turning assignments and suddenly, you find yourself stuck in your room all day watching Grey’s Anatomy for the third time. You’re officially in the burnout stage.

But what exactly is burnout? Well, according to webmd, burnout is a result of, “excessive and prolonged emotional, physical, and mental stress.” It can be found with stressful jobs, or, as you guessed it, with college students.

And as a college student, we have a lot to balance between classes, relationships, jobs, and our own wellbeing. And taking on too much all at once can often lead to the feeling of being burnt out, or drained, from the amount of stress you’re experiencing every day.

This is a problem, especially when it affects our academics. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, “30% of college students reported that stress has negatively affected their academic performance.”

So, how do we fix this? Or how do we at least try to avoid complete burnout all at once?

Well, here are some tips on how to avoid burnout.


Time management has most likely been drilled into your head since high school, but the skill is extremely important. Being able to manage your time appropriately so you don’t have all of your work saved up for the last minute will benefit you in college, but later on in life too.

Most of the time the reason we are terrible at time management is because of procrastination which is described as acts of delaying or putting off tasks until the last minute, or in many cases, after deadlines. Having chronic procrastination means doing this regularly for most of your assignments.

Learning to break out of the vicious cycle will help to decrease the feeling of constant stress and anxiety, and can help you let loose and have fun occasionally. But, it can also lead to having to say no sometimes when offers come up, because you need to focus on more important tasks. Which leads me to my next point:


As a college student, saying no is extremely hard most of the time. Not just when it comes to parties and socializing, but also when it comes to working and classes. It is one of the hardest skills to learn because, most of the time, especially in our first year, we just want to do everything, even if it’ll stress us out more.

But learning to say no can sometimes benefit you more than saying yes.

College is all about learning to prioritize your time and learning when to say yes, and when to say no to plans. Remember that your health and wellbeing come before putting another club on a resume.


Having realistic expectations about yourself is a very important skill to have when it comes to work. You know yourself best when it comes to what you’re good at and what you’re bad at.

Knowing yourself and knowing where you need to work is important. And if you’re a first time student, learning to adapt to college life and seeing what it’s all about is much better then attempting to cram extra classes in at the last second.

College is different from high school because you can essentially make your own schedule and your own way to life. If you want early morning classes, you can get up early. And if you want afternoon or late classes so you can sleep longer, you can also do that.

College is your oyster and you’re allowed to shape it in any way you think will match your strengths. So, take advantage of your time and energy, and work smarter to create a schedule that won’t stress you out and lead you to burnout.


Lots of times, students think that they can handle everything on their own. After all, they’re home away from home, they’re independent now. That means that they need to deal with their own struggles without anyone’s help.

But even as we grow older, we still need help from our friends, our family, a significant other, and professors. They will continue to help shape and build us as we grow.

Remember that asking for help is never a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength, and that it is always okay to talk to someone about the stress you’re experiencing. Nine out of ten times, a professor will understand if you talk to them about what you’re experiencing. Your friends and teachers and tutors and advisors are here to help you because we all want you to succeed. So, take advantage of their office hours and stay back to ask a few questions. No one will ever judge you for wanting to improve your learning experience by getting the help you need.


College is a difficult balancing act that we have to perform every day, and burnout is incredibly common because of that, especially in your first year when you’re still adapting to a new way of life. But, by taking the time to set reasonable goals, learning to say no when we’re stressed out, planning out our schedule, and by asking for help, burnout can be avoided.

As someone who has been a first year student, college can be super overwhelming at first. We aren’t used to the way that things are done and it can be super awkward and hard to understand in the beginning.

But, trust yourself and the people around here. With their help and with growing, you’ll be able to adapt soon enough, and soon you may even like all that college is cracked up to be.

Be patient with yourself, and everything else will follow.