The academic side of college life can be particularly difficult to adjust to because of your newfound independence. It will take time for you and your classmates to adapt to changed levels of supervision – give yourself this time to settle in and become familiar with the changing demands and pace of college life.
Understandably, students can feel significant pressure at various times during the academic year, for example, before and during the exam period, as they work towards a final year project or thesis, when undertaking group work and as deadlines build up. Students undertaking placements can feel under pressure to meet the demands and standards of their course and cope with long hours, travel requirements, interactions with others or the need to complete practical tasks. It is during those periods that it can be easy to neglect your own needs such as eating regularly and getting enough rest and sleep.
If you think you are developing, or have developed, eating disordered behaviours, you may notice yourself:
- Having difficulty concentrating in class or whilst studying.
- Substituting study for social activities and reducing social contact with other people.
- Setting personal and academic standards that are extremely high and rigid.
- Feeling trapped in a cycle.
- Feeling preoccupied with what you are eating, what you weigh, and how you think you look to the outside world.
- You may find yourself having mood swings, where you feel fine one minute and then panicky and out of control suddenly.
- You may find yourself increasing exercise and sacrificing rest and social activities for exercise.
If you feel you are slipping behind in your work, it is really important to speak with someone about this. College staff understand stress, and they understand that college can be tough for everyone sometimes. It can help to:
- Speak with your tutor, lecturer or course supervisor.
- Clarify whether you are behind with assignments, and make arrangements to make up any missed work when you can.
- Work with academic advisors towards ensuring you are meeting the minimum requirements to pass your course/year.
- Communication can often be difficult – it is important to keep your tutor informed as to your progress.
If your eating disorder has become more of an issue, you may need to take some time away from college. If this is the case, you should work with your academic advisor to clarify your options around returning at a later stage to complete your studies.