Managing stress as an adult student

May 29, 2019

Balancing school with career, family, and outside interests can be stressful. That’s why learning to manage stress is an important part of the academic journey. Here are four main stress factors adult students often experience, with tips to help you manage each and stick to the program.

1. Coursework Concerns

Whether you’re worried about an assignment or are having trouble communicating with your instructor, coursework challenges can be stressful. Here are a few specific concerns and how to tackle them.

  • Writing skills. If you’re not confident about your writing skills, Capella University offers a wide variety of resources to help you improve them, including a writing center.
  • Reading strategies. Most degree programs require a lot of reading, and it’s often going to be challenging. Certain reading strategies, like understanding what materials you’re using and identifying your purpose for reading them, can offer techniques you can use to work towards being more efficient and effective with your reading. Discussing the materials in online study groups with your peers can also be very helpful for comprehension and retention.
  • Time management. One of the bigger issues that adults face when they return to school is how to effectively manage their time. A time management app can help you keep track of research, deadlines, and other important factors.
  • Coursework is a significant part of any degree, and can lead to stress over assignment details, grades, or deadlines. Approach your coursework with these steps:
  • Review the assignment overview and grading rubric. Even if this doesn’t give you the answer, it can help you identify what your question is, so you can more effectively talk to your instructor.
  • Contact the instructor with questions about the assignment. The more specific you can make your question, the more helpful the answer will be.
  • Consult with your fellow classmates to bounce ideas off each other or brainstorm solutions. Don’t feel like you are alone in finding your way through the coursework.

2. Financial and Work Problems

Your progress on your education can be affected by outside influences, including financial and work problems. Here are some resources that could help get you back on track, depending on the issue you’re facing.

  • Job loss or dissatisfaction. Whether you’ve lost your job or are dissatisfied with the one you have, career challenges can be stressful. That said, this can also be a great time to reflect and decide what direction you want your career to go next, and how your education can help you reach that goal. Capella’s Career Center can help students and alumni with career enrichment and advancement opportunities. The Center offers tools to help with your job search, brush up your resume, and prepare for interviews. Networking can also be a powerful job search tool.
  • Financial issues. If you’re struggling financially, you might think it’s not in the cards to start or finish your degree. Rest assured, there’s plenty of help available. Capella’s financial aid services counselors are available to help you explore all of the ways you can fund your degree, including grants and scholarships.

3. Personal Life Crises

Family emergencies and health issues are two very common stressors that can impact your ability to complete coursework. Two ways you can successfully navigate through this challenging time are:

  • Contact your instructors. Let them know how the challenges you are having might impact your course participation. If you need extra time on assignments or discussions, ask them specifically about that possibility.
  • Consult your advisor. Academic advisors will be able to listen and may have knowledge of options that might not be apparent at first. When stressed, it can be hard to see all the possibilities.

4. Technology Issues

Living in the digital world has its advantages and disadvantages. Stress related to technology can include:

  • Technical problems. Broken Internet connections or computer crashes can halt your ability to complete online coursework. Until you can get the issue fixed, relieve the stress of these situations by:
    • Contacting your academic advisor, who can help contact your faculty members and update them while you are working to resolve the technical issue.
    • Exploring back up plans, such as using a friend or relative’s computer, staying late at work, or going to a coffee shop or library with free Wi-Fi.
  • We are constantly connected to technology, yet it can come as a surprise that technology can be a major factor in stress. Coping with technostress includes unplugging for a while, focusing on one online task at a time, creating limits for yourself, and getting some physical activity or going outside.

Managing Stress While Pursuing Your Online Degree

Whatever the stress, there are many resources and techniques available to help you cope. Being aware of your stress levels and what may trigger stress in your life is also important, so that you know when to seek help and support.

Learn more about Capella’s support services.


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