Building Resilience: Tips for Overcoming Challenges in Bachelor’s Programs

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Being a col­lege stu­dent has its fair share of chal­lenges that every incom­ing fresh­man must be aware of. For this rea­son, we always empha­size the need for build­ing resilience in col­lege, par­tic­u­lar­ly as resilience is a key trait in life suc­cess. Bach­e­lor’s degree resilience is an incred­i­ble way for stu­dents to be pre­pared for any­thing as they earn their first degree.

For­tu­nate­ly, col­lege stu­dents can over­come these chal­lenges in many ways. The trick is in acknowl­edg­ing these chal­lenges, accept­ing them for what they are — tem­po­rary in nature — and health­ily deal­ing with them. Here’s what you need to know about these things.

Relat­ed Resources:

Common Challenges Faced By Students

The first step in devel­op­ing bach­e­lor’s degree resilience is acknowl­edg­ing that col­lege-relat­ed chal­lenges are com­mon and nor­mal. If it’s any con­so­la­tion, you’re not alone in fac­ing these challenges.

Choosing Your Major

Even if you are admit­ted into a col­lege or uni­ver­si­ty as an unde­cid­ed or unde­clared stu­dent, you must choose a major in the future, usu­al­ly by the end of your sopho­more year. This can be stress­ful because it seems like choos­ing a major will deter­mine your career path in the future, includ­ing your poten­tial earnings.

Feelings of Homesickness

Being away from home for an extend­ed peri­od for the first time can be stress­ful, par­tic­u­lar­ly if you have a close-knit fam­i­ly. Being able to cre­ate and main­tain new rela­tion­ships can be chal­leng­ing, too, in a new environment.

Transitioning to College Life

High school is dif­fer­ent from col­lege life. The tran­si­tion can be dif­fi­cult, par­tic­u­lar­ly when you start doubt­ing your choic­es in your col­lege, major, and even your cours­es. You will be liv­ing inde­pen­dent­ly from your par­ents and sib­lings, too.

Dealing with A New Living Environment

Your new accom­mo­da­tions will have a set of chal­lenges. You will like­ly encounter rude room­mates, cramped shared spaces, and clean­li­ness issues, among oth­ers. Your liv­ing envi­ron­ment can also be char­ac­ter­ized by a lack of pri­va­cy and plen­ty of distractions.

Overcoming Academic Challenges

Even the best and bright­est of their high school class will under­go a chal­leng­ing tran­si­tion into col­lege life and, in many cas­es, right until their grad­u­a­tion day. Think of the Stan­ford duck syn­drome — calm­ly glid­ing over water, furi­ous­ly pad­dling below the water.

Time Management Issues

Col­lege life presents a wide range of oppor­tu­ni­ties to learn and enjoy, from stu­dent clubs and orga­ni­za­tions to sports teams and Greek let­ter soci­eties. But you can also spread your­self too thin­ly with a com­bi­na­tion of a full course load, a part-time job, and an active extracur­ric­u­lar cal­en­dar, per­haps even a love life. Time man­age­ment issues become your enemy.

Maintaining Good Health

With dead­lines, social com­mit­ments, and oth­er stres­sors pil­ing up, it’s easy enough to look after your phys­i­cal and men­tal health. You skip your meals and binge on junk food, go for days with­out prop­er sleep, and for­go exer­cise alto­geth­er. Add in par­ty­ing and the health risks of stay­ing in close liv­ing quar­ters, and sick­ness isn’t too far behind.

Financial Uncertainty

Last but not least, finan­cial stress is a con­cern among many col­lege stu­dents. With the aver­age col­lege tuition and fees rang­ing between $10,662 and $42,162 in the 2023–2024 aca­d­e­m­ic year, the cost of edu­ca­tion is still among the great­est bar­ri­ers to high­er education.

These chal­lenges are also among the most report­ed rea­sons for drop­ping out of col­lege, par­tic­u­lar­ly among those with insuf­fi­cient aca­d­e­m­ic prepa­ra­tion in high school, lim­it­ed finan­cial means, and sys­temic bar­ri­ers in their way.

Strategies For Overcoming Academic Obstacles

The good news is that there are effec­tive strate­gies for over­com­ing chal­lenges in bach­e­lor’s pro­grams, even when all hope seems lost. While we’ve been specif­i­cal­ly talk­ing about bach­e­lor’s degree resilience, it’s impor­tant to note again that resilience is a key per­son­al­i­ty trait. You can, nonethe­less, start adopt­ing these strate­gies while also devel­op­ing your resiliency.

Plan a smooth transition to college.

When you plan your high-school-to-col­lege tran­si­tion, you’re plan­ning on suc­ceed­ing in college.

  • Dis­cuss your aspi­ra­tions and goals with your par­ents. Be sure that you’re on the same page, if necessary.
  • Get orga­nized with your tran­si­tion into col­lege life by list­ing your require­ments (sup­plies, text­books, and oth­er things), tak­ing note of your course sched­ules, and vis­it­ing the cam­pus, among oth­er activities.
  • Reach out and start estab­lish­ing rela­tion­ships even before class­es start. Com­mu­ni­cate with your pro­fes­sors and aca­d­e­m­ic advis­er, dis­cuss the stu­dent sup­port ser­vices with the staff, and get to know the stu­dent organizations.

With a lit­tle time and effort before­hand, your new cam­pus will feel like a sec­ond home on the first day of class­es. This is an excel­lent step towards bach­e­lor’s degree resilience.

Set SMART goals.

SMART, the acronym for Spe­cif­ic, Mea­sur­able, Achiev­able, Rel­e­vant, and Time-Bound — goals are the way to go for col­lege stu­dents who plan on suc­ceed­ing in col­lege. You can set SMART goals for every aspect of your col­lege jour­ney. The SMART goal applies to your finances, sched­ul­ing, and rela­tion­ships with peers, pro­fes­sors, and mentors.

Exam­ples include:

  • By the end of my first semes­ter as a fresh­man, I had saved $1,000 from my allowance and a part-time job as an emer­gency fund.
  • I will achieve at least a 3.5 GPA by the end of my fresh­man year. I will achieve it by study­ing for at least two hours every day, attend­ing all my class­es, and tak­ing advan­tage of stu­dent sup­port services.

Be sure to hold your­self account­able for your progress, such as keep­ing a jour­nal and mak­ing week­ly check-ins with your goals. Just remem­ber to be flex­i­ble because life and change happen.

Develop effective study routines.

While get­ting good grades in col­lege isn’t the be-all and end-all of your col­lege life, it’s a huge part of your suc­cess and bach­e­lor’s degree resilience. You must then devel­op effec­tive study routines.

  • Iden­ti­fy your learn­ing style. Exper­i­ment with the best style if you haven’t deter­mined it in high school.
  • Stick to your sched­uled study time.
  • Stay orga­nized with your aca­d­e­m­ic require­ments, includ­ing assign­ments and tests.

Adopt effective time management skills.

Keep in mind that effec­tive time man­age­ment demands dis­ci­pline and deter­mi­na­tion, as well as prac­tic­ing to make it perfect. 

  • Deter­mine your pri­or­i­ties. In this case, get­ting good grades and learn­ing all you can are your priorities.
  • Make dai­ly, week­ly, and month­ly sched­ules based on your course requirements.
  • Stick to your sched­ule. But be flex­i­ble, too, because some plans just aren’t made to be perfect.
  • Cut out dis­trac­tions and avoid mul­ti­task­ing. You can then focus on the task at hand and achieve the desired results.

While it may seem like you have plen­ty of time, you don’t. You must then make the most of your time by allo­cat­ing it to pro­duc­tive activ­i­ties. Just be sure to bal­ance work with play because suc­cess­ful­ly nav­i­gat­ing chal­lenges in bach­e­lor’s degrees means being healthy to do so.

Be savvy about your finances.

Not every­body can be heirs of wealthy fam­i­lies but every­body can be finan­cial­ly savvy with the right plan­ning and execution.

  • Be real­is­tic about your finan­cial situation.
  • Dis­cuss finan­cial sup­port with your fam­i­ly, if any.
  • Con­sid­er your finan­cial aid options, such as schol­ar­ships and grants. Dis­cuss them with your col­lege’s finan­cial aid officer.
  • Apply to as many finan­cial aid pro­grams as pos­si­ble, includ­ing fed­er­al and state stu­dent aid and insti­tu­tion­al and exter­nal scholarships.
  • Set a SMART bud­get with your income and expens­es itemized.
  • Find a part-time job to finance your liv­ing expenses.

Most impor­tant­ly, you should edu­cate your­self about good finan­cial habits.

Deal with the stress and pressure in healthy ways.

While rant­i­ng and rav­ing bring tem­po­rary release from stress, these aren’t healthy cop­ing mech­a­nisms. Instead, you should try these healthy ways that are also good for your phys­i­cal and men­tal health.

  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Engage in mod­er­ate exer­cise, such as brisk walk­ing for 30 min­utes every day.
  • Con­nect with your fam­i­ly and friends.
  • Take reg­u­lar breaks. Take some time for your­self, by yourself.
  • Prac­tice med­i­ta­tion and yoga, among oth­er relax­ation techniques.
  • Reg­u­late your emo­tions so that your reac­tions won’t back­fire on you.
  • Seek pro­fes­sion­al help, if need­ed, for your men­tal health and well-being.
  • Reward your­self for your small and big achievements.

You will find that col­lege life may be stress­ful, but it also has its rewards when you know how to deal with stress well. Stress man­age­ment and bach­e­lor’s degree resilience go hand in hand.

Take advantage of student support services.

Aca­d­e­m­ic advis­ing, coun­sel­ing and tutor­ing ser­vices, math and writ­ing cen­ters, and career devel­op­ment ser­vices are there for a rea­son. You must take advan­tage of them even when you think that you don’t need them. Your pro­fes­sors will also be ready and able to become your men­tors if you ask in a good way.

Remember your reason.

Why are you in col­lege in the first place? You must remem­ber your rea­son, so you have the phys­i­cal and men­tal strength to over­come these challenges.

Developing Resilience For Long-Term Success

The above-men­tioned bach­e­lor’s pro­gram suc­cess strate­gies are use­ful in devel­op­ing your resilience for long-term suc­cess after col­lege, too. We also sug­gest keep­ing these tips in mind.

  • Learn to relax and to let go of the small and triv­ial things.
  • Main­tain a sen­si­ble per­spec­tive of stress­ful situations.
  • Learn to adapt to a wide range of sit­u­a­tions and peo­ple. Being flex­i­ble will strength­en your resilience.
  • Build your com­pe­tence and con­fi­dence through pos­i­tive self-talk and life­long learning.
  • Main­tain strong and sup­port­ive per­son­al relationships. 
  • Learn from your fail­ures and mistakes.
  • Know what you can con­trol and take back control.
  • Find your purpose.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the most com­mon chal­lenges stu­dents face in col­lege?

Finan­cial con­straints, aca­d­e­m­ic pres­sure, and time man­age­ment issues as well as phys­i­cal and men­tal health issues, are the most com­mon chal­lenges among stu­dents. These issues are usu­al­ly the result of tak­ing on too many cur­ric­u­lar and extracur­ric­u­lar activ­i­ties, tak­ing too lit­tle time to rest, and too lit­tle effort spent on reach­ing out for assis­tance, among oth­er rea­sons. Every col­lege stu­dent, of course, has their own unique set of chal­lenges at dif­fer­ent times.

What are the great­est bar­ri­ers to earn­ing a bach­e­lor’s degree?

These can vary depend­ing on your cir­cum­stances, such as your finan­cial resources, per­son­al­i­ty traits, and sup­port sys­tem. How­ev­er, the great­est bar­ri­ers to com­plet­ing a col­lege edu­ca­tion are finan­cial con­straints. These are caused by the rise of tuition costs and liv­ing expens­es, insuf­fi­cient aca­d­e­m­ic pre­pared­ness, and com­pet­ing demands for time. Many stu­dents also cite sys­temic bar­ri­ers, such as the absence of col­lege prepara­to­ry pro­grams, lim­it­ed finan­cial aid, and bias­es in the admis­sion process, par­tic­u­lar­ly among dis­ad­van­taged populations.

Why do some stu­dents fail at com­plet­ing a bach­e­lor’s pro­gram?

Per­son­al chal­lenges are the most cit­ed rea­son for fail­ure in earn­ing a bach­e­lor’s degree. Finan­cial dif­fi­cul­ties, health issues, and fam­i­ly oblig­a­tions are com­mon. Stu­dents also expe­ri­ence aca­d­e­m­ic chal­lenges that result in their inabil­i­ty to com­plete their degree pro­grams. The lack of access to stu­dent sup­port ser­vices, finan­cial aid, and oth­er resources are also valid reasons.

What’s the best advice for get­ting through col­lege?

You should set real­is­tic expec­ta­tions and goals before start­ing your life as a col­lege stu­dent since these will estab­lish a strong foun­da­tion for suc­cess. Then, you must seek sup­port and assis­tance, take good care of your­self, and stay engaged in your stud­ies. Your suc­cess as a col­lege stu­dent will not only depend on your knowl­edge, skills, and deter­mi­na­tion but also the peo­ple around you includ­ing your fel­low stu­dents and pro­fes­sors, fam­i­ly and friends, and even your local community. 


  • U.S. News & World Report
  • Boston Uni­ver­si­ty’s The Brink