How To Be Happy In College In 6 Steps

How To Be Happy In College In 6 Steps

Turn that frown upside down.

There's no shock that people in college have a lot to deal with on a regular basis. First, lay on the minimum 15 credit classes that require three to four plus hours of studying per class, then add on clubs and sports team commitments. Then add on keeping up with our health and well-being, not to mention staying in touch with our families and friends from home. Also, having your social life stay alive by making sure to attend every party, and oh, did I mention that you have to squeeze in doing laundry once a week when dealing with the terrible machines that were around since your parents were born and having to worry about that one kid that always takes your clothes out the second they are finished?

OK, so yeah, we have a lot to deal with as college students. Frankly, I don't believe we get enough credit for what we're accomplishing, which is getting at least a Bachelor's degree. In the midst of all the drama, academics, social life and making sure that we eat something other than three-minute microwavable mac and cheese, it's important that we focus on staying happy.

Happy? Is that even possible with the amount of work that we all have constantly? Are there even moments that we can take a break and just smile?


Life is way too short to keep crying and stressing each week about what's due on a particular day and the anxiety and pressures of being in college. Of course, academics are important, but that one quiz that you failed that is worth 2 percent of your grade is definitely not worth your tears.

So, if you're feeling overwhelmed and, quite honestly, lost like I was during my first semester of college, sit back, relax and listen to ways to stay happy.

1. If it won't matter in five years, then it's not worth your tears.

This one is a rule that took me a long time to learn and works for me almost every day. That presentation you're so scared to give: chances are that the people in your class won't remember it and you won't even remember the classmates' faces. When you're in the real world and have a full-time job, chances are that you won't look back on your college experience and remember that time freshman year first semester when you choked in front of your class.

OK, so now that we're focusing on relaxing instead of stressing about our academics, we realize that this rule can apply to pretty much any problem that you're dealing with at a given moment.

Going through a heartbreak? Sure, you'll remember the guy that broke your heart, cheated or chose someone over you because that stuff frankly hurts like hell. However, in five years do you really think that you won't meet someone new or be thinking about the relationship that you used to have?

Ask yourself, what are some events that you will remember in the five years?

Not that presentation, not that stupid boy, but the amazing friends and memories that you created in your four years together. I'm still unsure of how a bunch of 18 to 22-year-olds are allowed to live together from all over the country and barely have any rules to follow, but I'm not complaining. Chances are that we will never get a chance to have this experience again.

2. Embrace the independence.

I know that the following will kill my mother to read, but one of the best parts of college is the fact that you get to be away from home. Don't be afraid of that because if anything, we should welcome that privilege. Do things on your own to show yourself that you can do them. College is the bridge from childhood to adulthood, and gaining the confidence in yourself to be by yourself is a crucial component of living a healthy, happy life.

People say "you find out who you really are in high school." Well, I politely disagree. I think that high school is a time of fitting in, keeping your head down and just counting down the days until graduation. Alternatively, I think that college is the time when people really branch out of their shells, find themselves and explore interests in fields that they couldn't imagine themselves ever doing.

I entered freshman year of college almost exactly the same as high school: scared, afraid to be different and too shy to get involved and apply myself to my schoolwork. I encourage everyone to not start the way I did. College is all about being confident in yourself, taking chances and believing that whatever you set your mind to is something that you can absolutely accomplish.

3. Surround yourself with good friends.

The beauty of college is that there are no longer clique-y groups that exclude you. For the most part, everyone is friends with everyone. Sure, I've seen some people still stuck in high school, but besides that small amount of people, no one judges you based on what you look like, who you talk to or by your interests. In my experience, everyone tends to get along and it's important to really find people who are genuinely good and care about you. You don't want to be friends with the people that ditch you or make fun of you or talk about you behind your back.

Friends motivate you because they see the potential that you have to grow. Friends get you an extra cup of hot chocolate when you're too sick to get out of bed. Friends make you laugh so hard that soda comes out your nose (that has actually happened to my close friends at college). So a word of advice: leave all of the drama in high school and find people who will love you as much as you deserve to be loved.

4. Try everything!

Funnily enough, trying out for things isn't like how it was in high school. Sure, it might've been "weird" to join the AV club or the Mathletes, but in college everyone does everything. Even better, do things that you love or are interested in experiencing. Also, I found some of my closest friends getting involved in clubs and the sooner that you start, the more comfortable you'll be and the more friends you'll end up making!

For instance, I started a club my first semester of my freshman year. Now, by my second semester, I'm on the chair of executives. That not only looks great on my résumé, but it is also exciting to be further involved in an organization that I truly care about.

5. Go out!

This might not be too hard to convince you, but going out is the part that's amazing about college. Everyone needs to have some fun now and then. Keeping yourself up in your dorm room isn’t fun for anyone. Pull yourself out of bed, away from your books and go to that party everyone’s been talking about. If partying isn’t your thing, call a friend and go explore the city or town around campus. It doesn’t matter what you do so long as you get out of the academic mindset and just let loose for once. Your schoolwork can be put on pause Friday and Saturday nights.

6. Live these four years to the fullest.

We've all heard it from parents, cousins and friends that college is one of the best times of our lives, but also that it goes incredibly fast. Even though it might be your first year, it's as if you'll take a blink and the next thing you know, you're walking across that stage to get your well-deserved diploma.

It sounds dumb, but live every moment to the fullest. You hate your roommate? Cherish the moments that they piss you off. You hate the dining hall food? This is probably the last time that you can ever be on a meal plan. You're too tired to go out? Push yourself because when you're working a full-time job in the future, you will give anything, and I mean anything, to relive the college days.

I realize that I say this a lot, but I can't reiterate enough how short life really is. So eat that extra slice of pizza, go out with your friends while you can and don't pass up on an opportunity of adventure. If Ted Mosby did that, then he'd have nothing to tell his kids and certainly, wouldn't have a story to share of how he met their mother.

Cover Image Credit: Fairfield Mirror

Popular Right Now

I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it


Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

Cover Image Credit:

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

11 Things You NEVER Say To A College Girl Trying To Get Into Shape

Just never talk about a person's weight.


When my family and friends joked that I was going to gain 15 pounds in my freshman year of college as a result of the "Freshman 15," I thought it was what it was supposed to be: a joke. However, as the year has come to an end, I realized that I actually did put on a couple of pounds, albeit it wasn't the predicted 15.

As I told those that I wanted to get into an ideal shape for my body, I was met with some insensitive and ignorant remarks. Everyone thought that I mean just losing the weight I had put on.

1. "You walk to all of your classes, why aren't you losing weight that way?"

My legs are more toned than they ever have been before. However, most of the weight I have been gaining has gone directly to my gut (annoying!) and walking does not remedy that. Unfortunately, I have to stick to ab workouts.

2. "But you look fine to me!"

I don't feel healthy to myself. I'm not trying to stay in shape for anyone else, just myself, thanks. I appreciate you trying to make me feel better about my body image but I know something has to be done.

3. "I didn't gain any weight in college."

Good for you. I did. I'm trying to do something about it.

4. "Just stop drinking."

I don't drink. Really, the only liquid I consume is water or iced tea. I don't like soda and alcohol makes me nauseous way too easily.

5. "Isn't the gym free on campus for students?"

Yes, but some people don't like working out in front of others. I am one of those people. My friend lives in an apartment complex that has their own gym and almost no one is ever there but not everyone has that luxury. Also, some are busy and do not have time for a quick jog or to stretch.

6. "You should try this diet/pills/exercise routine."

I am thankful that you are trying to help but my diet is just eating healthy and having a few cheat days in between. I know what exercises work best for me and I am just not taking pills. Bodies adjust differently.

7. "Don't starve/force yourself to throw up."

Trust me, I know. I'm trying to lose the weight healthily. If you do find yourself practicing unhealthy eating habits or realizing your body image is deteriorating, the NEDA Hotline is (800) 931-2237. Please reach out if you are going through hardships.

8. "Won't you have to buy a whole new wardrobe?"

If I drop (or even add) a size or two. We grow out and grow tired of clothes on the regular, what's the difference if you have to buy some because of a weight change? Plus, who doesn't love buying new clothes?

9. "Just eat healthier."

Didn't think of it! Options are limited at college where the dining halls don't offer all that much that is actually good for your body. Now that I'm at home, it's easier. But I'm already trying to eat healthy.

10. "You've evened out since the last time I saw you!"

This is code for you've put on some weight. I hear it mostly from older relatives because my friends will flat out tell me if I've gotten a little chunky.

11. "You're just stressed."

Personally, this one gets me livid. I do admit that when I am stressed or anxious, I do turn to food for comfort but when I am delighted and genuinely happy, will my body magically revert into a fit state?

Sadly, no.

Honestly, I am just trying to get my body back into shape. For me, that means cutting back on greasy foods and kicking a bad habit of sitting on my butt all day. For others, it could mean more or less. As long as your body is in good physical condition and you are content, the number on the scale and others' thoughts shouldn't matter. Take care of yourself.

Related Content

Facebook Comments