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A Niagara University student completes homework assignments in the library amidst upcoming final exams.
A Niagara University student completes homework assignments in the library amidst upcoming final exams.

9 ways to be a successful college student

CMS 120A Capstone Project

Fri, Dec 2nd 2022 02:40 pm

By Lana Boyer

Special to Niagara Frontier Publications

Being a college student can be very stressful, and for good reason. There are several factors that contribute to this. These include pressure to do well in school, having a job, participating in sports and activities, getting enough sleep, taking care of yourself and your family, etc. Especially with finals just around the corner, students are more agitated than ever.

Although these can all be difficult things to juggle, there are ways to prevent becoming overwhelmed.


•Limit social media use

One way in which one can relieve the anxiety that college can cause is to limit time on cellphones and social media. According to an article written by Jay Bernhardt (Ph.D., M.P.H.), Julia Alber (M.P.H.) and Robert S. Gold (Dr.P.H., Ph.D.), the U.S. proportion of adults using social media has increased from 8% to 72% since 2005. Social media can often make for a very unproductive time if overused. Social media can also cause one to become very discontent, as it inevitably leads to an individual comparing themselves to the lavish, seemingly perfect lives and appearances of the rich and famous users.

•Get a good night’s sleep

Getting enough sleep is very important to having a successful and productive life. For college students, it can be tremendously easy to put off school assignments and wait until the last minute to complete it. Eight hours of sleep is recommended for an adult.

 An article that was medically reviewed by Stacy Sampson, D.O., and written by Stephanie Watson and Kristeen Cherney, states, “Sleep deprivation also negatively affects your mental abilities and emotional state. You may feel more impatient or prone to mood swings.” Not getting enough sleep can cause daytime fatigue, weight gain, trouble concentrating, and memory issues.

Binghamton University student Alyssa Armitage states, “When I do not get enough sleep, I find that I am very tired for my practice and I do not do as well as I am capable of.”

•Plan ahead

Planning ahead may be the best way to be successful in college. Having an agenda and writing down when you have assignments due, tests, exams, etc., can help you to stay on track and not forget about due dates.

 An article on DreamAchieversAcademy.com states, “By planning ahead, we can identify the associated risks, weigh and categorize them, prioritize and create a response plan.”

Niagara University junior Madelyn Clark states, “I have an Excel spreadsheet that has all of my due dates for the entire semester.” Sending yourself reminders through your phone is another way to plan ahead.

•Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Whether it is a friend, teacher, parent, or sibling, asking for help is essential. When one becomes mentally drained for any reason, it can be very difficult to not express how they feel to others. Suppressing emotions can only cause more distress. There are counselors who are willing to help on college campuses, and who offer their assistance to any who may need it. Asking for help is not shameful in any way, and it can be a relief to get how you are really feeling off of one’s chest.

Dr. Julia Hood, Ph.D., states, “Having a support system has also been proven to reduce depression and anxiety and reduce stress.”

Niagara University student Morgan Fitzpatrick states, “Asking for help from teachers has been helpful when I am struggling during a class and I go to their office hours for extra help.”

•Make room for ‘me time’

Taking care of oneself is crucial, and it is very easy to slip into a routine where one neglects self-care, particularly when classes require a great deal of out-of-class time working on assignments and studying. It is a good idea to carve out time every day to participate in activities that one enjoys, even if just for 20 minutes. Some examples are taking a walk, watching your favorite TV show, and spending time with friends. If one does not make time for themselves, getting burned out is a very real possibility and it can be very arduous getting out of that situation.

•Get a tutor

If you are struggling with any subject in school, it is beneficial to get a tutor. Many colleges offer student tutoring for no cost. Tutoring can be very useful and is a valuable resource. Especially when midterms and finals are coming up, acquiring a tutor can help you understand the material quicker, which leads to receiving better grades.


Staying healthy physically is just as important as being mentally fit. According to CarletonAthletics.com, exercising improves brain performance, sharpens memory, increases productivity, and boosts self-confidence. Working out can also be an escape from completing schoolwork. Many college campuses have places with equipment where students can work out for free.

SUNY Fredonia freshman Grace Galipeau states, “Exercise helps me achieve my goals and keeps me motivated throughout my day.”

•Participate in extracurricular activities

When one joins a social group, such as a club or sport, it is more than likely that they will meet people who have similar interests as them, which can then lead to budding friendships. It is important that students in college take advantage of all that it has to offer, which is so much more than classes. Partaking in clubs and sports while attending university can open up a broad spectrum of opportunities that one might not otherwise know of.

•Don’t bully yourself

No one talks to someone more than themselves, and oftentimes individuals are very hard on themselves, thinking thoughts that are predominantly negative. If one doesn't treat themselves with kindness, how will they be able to give it to others? It can be very difficult to have such a rigorous college schedule whilst being bombarded with negative thoughts. Being kind to yourself can only bring positive changes into your life, and one will then unconsciously see the glass half full once they practice it enough.

Being a college student in the 21st century can be extremely stressful and demanding at times, but it is important to realize that there are so many different ways in which one can improve their experiences. Students are never alone and there is always someone who can help.

For more ways to help, visit the following websites:






Niagara Frontier Publications works with the Niagara University communication studies department to publish the capstone work of students in CMS 120A-B.

These articles do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of NFP, NU or the communication studies department. Moreover, every effort has been made to adhere to the principles of journalism, encourage the proper use of sources, and discourage anything that would constitute plagiarism.

Comments or concerns can be sent to the NFP editorial department, care of the managing editor.

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