What to Do if You’re Unhappy in College

Classrooms Team

Nov 27, 2020

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Everybody experiences college differently. While some people have an easier time than others, and while some find that their life is a dream on campus, others encounter struggles of all kinds. Whether you know what’s causing your plight or you aren’t exactly sure, there are a few steps you can take to liven things up if you find that you’re unhappy in college.

While it’s important to keep in mind that nothing in life is perfect, you absolutely deserve to have the college experience that makes you happy, and that comes with taking care of your mental health. There are plenty of ways to address your happiness, figure out what’s going on and go about changing your situation for the better. While everyone’s experience is unique, there are a few universal tips you can keep in mind to try and turn things around, a little bit at a time.

1. Do Some Soul Searching

If you know the specific reason you’re unhappy in college, you can probably skip this one. However, not everyone knows the complexities of all their feelings right away. You could very well be in the boat of those scratching their heads saying, “I’m unhappy, but I can’t figure out exactly why.” If this sounds like you, a bit of soul searching could be in order.

While it might be tough — or even a bit painful — you might do well to think a bit deeper about what’s causing your unhappiness. You can’t fix a problem if you don’t even know what the problem is. You can explore your thoughts and feelings in privacy if that feels good for you, or you can go at it with a trusted friend, family member or mental health professional. Even if you don’t figure out everything in one conversation or session together, exploring your emotions can help you make progress.

2. Get Professional Help

Whether you struggle with mental illness or you simply want a sounding board, seeing a therapist or counselor can help you make progress towards better habits, coping mechanisms, and finding happiness. While therapy and counseling can often be expensive or difficult to access, most college campuses have resources available, from free therapy at the student health center to graduate student volunteer counselors.

If you’re not sure what your school has to offer in terms of counseling, you can always ask the health center. While every campus is different, most have some form of free counseling. Getting professional help may seem scary if you’ve never done it before, having a listening ear with a bit of expertise can offer a lot.

3. Be More Social

Sometimes — especially for natural extroverts — lack of social interaction can cause people to feel sad and alone. When adjusting to a college workload, it can be easy to dive into work and forget about your social health. If you feel alone and that seems to be the root of your troubles, it may be time to put yourself out there.

Being social can be difficult if you don’t know anybody or if your school happens to be doing online learning or hybrid learning. But giving socialization a try can be highly important — and it’s often much easier once you get started. By joining clubs and societies, using social media groups associated with your school, and making connections with those you might already know, you can get those social juices flowing once more.

4. Or Be Less Social

A suggestion seldom seen, but no less important. Simply put, not everybody is an extrovert. And if you’ve been trying to quell your sadness and feed your social battery by constantly spending time in social situations while you’ve a serious introvert, you may be doing more harm than good. You may be putting too much pressure on yourself, and you need to ease up.

Allow yourself some highly important you time, and cut yourself some slack. While plenty of people find that the key to happiness is a large social circle and a list of a million clubs to join, you might find that draining. Listen to yourself and your own needs. If you need to keep your circle small, do it.

5. Take Care of Your Physical Health

While your physical health isn’t the only key to a happy life, you might be surprised at all it can bring you. Eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep and drinking water are all components of a healthy mind and body. Really, it’s another form of self care.

Whether you join a sport to meet new people and get some well needed time outdoors or you workout in solitude as a form of self care, getting at least thirty minutes of exercise a day can release endorphins that make you happier. Eating energizing foods and drinking water can also keep your spirits up and help improve your mood. Really, it’s all about caring for the whole system of you.

6. Switch Things Up

Perhaps your unhappiness doesn’t come from the college experience, but from what you’re studying or where you are. While jumping to change your path shouldn’t be the first solution, it’s worth considering, especially if your persisting thoughts center around your major or your school.

If you find yourself constantly unhappy with your classes, subjects, and major, you might not really love what you’re studying. Alternatively, if you find yourself feeling like an outsider of your campus culture, don’t enjoy the faculty, and want to go home every weekend, you might not be at the college that’s the best fit for you. If you truly want to change your major to something you love or even transfer schools, take a bit of time to think about it, and do what feels right to you.

You Deserve to Be Happy in College

Your college experience may not be perfect, but it shouldn’t be causing you sadness. If you find yourself unhappy in college, there are so many ways to go about finding the root of the problem and working to fix it. Whether you seek the counsel of a trusted professional or change your major, you can start your journey to college happiness.

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