Dealing With Financial and Social Pressures at University

Mona takes us through the importance of balance within university life, sharing some tips on how to avoid a build up of pressure and not spread ourselves too thin. 

There is a general understanding for students which includes three things: good grades, a social life and rest. Yet, there is always one which suffers when you excel in the others. Whilst aiming for good grades and a social life in your first year of university, you’re limiting your sleep and wellbeing. However, when nearing the end of your degree your focus shifts to having good grades and sleep, allowing your social life to be the one that slips. This cycle also takes different forms, manifesting in spending, extra-curriculars, and just general anxieties, adding an enormous amount of pressure whether we are conscious of it or not. 

With regards to financial pressures, we must learn how to divide our money. Budgeting is a huge responsibility that students will not have been exposed to before, something that can be extremely hard when living independently. To help with this, some students take on part-time work alongside their studies to help pay for bills and even gain experience. This puts even more pressure on the pyramid mentioned above, again reducing the time we have for our other commitments and necessities. I worked part time as a student, and the pressure I felt around working and taking my studies seriously, especially when it was close to exam season, was huge. I felt that I had to have a conversation with my manager which proved to be extremely helpful as she changed my shifts to the weekends and reduced my hours for that period. If you’re feeling the same way, other solutions could involve discussing your finances with the financial advice team, as they will be able to provide advice, part-time work solutions and possibly monetary support. You could also discuss it with your friends as it’s almost guaranteed that many others feel a similar way, meaning you’d be able help each other out. 

Again, looking back on my own experience, I remember facing the social pressures that come with university quite early on. On my first day of walking into the lecture hall and seeing about two hundred people that I’d never met before, I felt incredibly anxious and nervous. In fact, the more I saw them interact so casually and effortlessly with one another, my anxiety only grew. I began to know a few people after a couple of weeks, but I remember constantly thinking about how they were all still so unfamiliar to me; I felt that I join in on whatever they did just so I could fit in. Despite knowing that this kind of pressure was unnecessary, I had it stuck in my head that if I didn’t do this one thing then I would no longer be a part of that group, and I’d be right back to awkwardly staring at two hundred people in a lecture hall once again. However, that really wasn’t the case, and I slowly began to realise that everyone had other priorities and commitments, which is all okay and understandable.

 It took me a long time to realise this. In order to succeed, having a balanced life was a necessity, and spreading myself too thin was never going to work. I also came to understand that my life did not need to be balanced out evenly each day; you can have days where you only study and sleep, and days where you enjoy yourself and not focus on work. Overall, it’s just important to balance and pace yourself throughout your years at university in order to really make the most out of them. 

Writer: Mona Mettawa, Student