Common First-Year Student Doubts & How to Deal With Them

The first year of university is a period of your life like no other. It’s a melting pot of feelings, challenges, and obstacles that every single person will encounter and deal with in their own unique way.

How and when you will experience first-year student doubts, then, may be completely different to the next person. But if one thing’s for sure, you’re certainly not alone in your struggles.

Here’s three of the most common first-year student doubts with some tips for how you can not ignore or push them aside, but work through them and move into the next year even stronger.

“I’m not sure this is what I want to do anymore”

If you’re having this doubt, then congrats, it shows you’re more aware and in touch with the world than anyone who thinks there is one job, career, or direction that their life should be aligned with.

Saying that, even if there was, thinking you’d get it right on your first go, when you’re only a few years into life and bombarded with so many other questions and feelings, is a near impossible ask.

Although it may seem the opposite, university isn’t about knowing stuff and getting things right; it’s about learning, getting things wrong, and finding new things out about life and yourself. If you happen to love your course at the same time, then great, but bear in mind it may just be for you right now. If you hate it, even better, you’re already learning something new about yourself and anyway, it’s easy enough to transfer to another course.

“I’m not like everyone else, maybe uni isn’t for me”

The irony of this doubt is that pretty much everyone feels they’re not like everyone else at some point in their life. Especially for those that go to uni and experience the social pressure of being accepted and looking cool.

The other ironic thing about this doubt is that typically the things that make you think you can’t connect with others is actually what makes you unique and interesting to them. Maybe it’s because you’re not a fan of nightclubs but prefer the quiet of the countryside. Maybe you prefer hosting dinner parties to getting hammered. Or maybe you’re just struggling with the whole experience and want to talk about mental health and the meaning of life and not the latest episode of Game of Thrones.

This is one of the most common first-year student doubts, and there’s lots you can do to dispel it — join societies, try volunteering, start your own club. A good way to begin, though, is by recognising what makes you feel so different. Chances are high that there’s a lot of people who feel the same.

“I’m already falling behind, and it’s only going to get harder”

Even aside from all doubts and pressures and questions, university is tough. It’s mentally and physically demanding, and those that don’t accept this and put the appropriate measures in place are those who it impacts the most.

That being said, worrying is not going to make it any easier. Sure, a little concern is good to keep yourself on your toes, but if you’re dwelling on how little you’ve done and how far you’ve got to go, it’s not going to do you any favours.

It’s a pretty hot topic right now, but there’s a lot to be said about how mindfulness can help here. For example, by simply slowing down and stopping to focus on your breath for five minutes, it can break the cycle of negative thinking and help you notice how all these worries don’t exist outside your own imagination. Doing this is the difference between wasting more time entertaining yourself with dramatic and grandiose thoughts, and actually moving forward with your studies and making yourself feel a whole lot better.

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