Very few students sail through their degrees without a few study problems. Addressing issues sooner rather than later is vital in order to prevent study problems getting you down.

Problems with the course

One of the commonest problems for students when they first start on a course is realising that it isn’t what they expected, or not suited to them in some way. Universities and colleges have an interest in students being on the right course for them, and will usually offer support in addressing problems. It is often possible to change courses without losing time if done soon enough.

“I can’t concentrate!”

Student life tends to be hectic, with lots going on. Shared accommodation tends to be noisy, and it can be difficult to avoid being distracted by others. Problems with concentration will affect most students at one time or another, but depressed thinking habits set up a kind of internal ‘noise’ that can cause these problems to become intense or chronic. See the ‘Challenging depressed thinking’ pages for ways to address this.

Leaving things to the last minute…

Procrastination is another very common student issue, which can be closely linked with any or all of the other issues discussed on this page. It is also a very common part of the depression habit spiral – the more things get put off, the more overwhelming they seem. Procrastination is particularly linked to the depressed thinking habits of perfectionism, self-bullying and all-or-nothing thinking.

Time management

Having to juggle study, paid work and a busy social life demands good time management skills! Some university or college courses are quite structured, but many only specify a few lecture or seminar commitments a week while expecting students to organise many further hours of study independently. Making the mistake of seeing non-lecture time as ‘free’ time can leave students feeling lost and aimless, making space for depression to flourish. Alternatively, rushing around from one thing to the next without proper rest can suddenly lead to a depressed ‘burnout’.

Performance and exam anxiety

A little adrenaline helps performance, but over-worrying is a very good way to reduce efficiency and effectiveness. Depressed thinking habits and raised stress levels can get in the way of you doing your best in your studies. Getting your time management and concentration sorted is a good starting point. Use the study skills support and resources offered by your academic or student services department. See our ‘Challenging depressed thinking’ and ‘Modifying stress levels’.