Why Is College So Hard? (Plus 5 Things To Do If You Are Struggling)

Why is college so hard? And what can you do to make it easier? In this article, we go over everything you need to know if you’re struggling in college right now.

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why is college so hard

College can be hard, even if you’re a straight-A student. There’s all this homework and studying, which can be overwhelming and stressful. There are also so many social events to keep up with that it can be easy to fall behind.

It’s supposed to be a rewarding experience, but college can be a nightmare for many kids. If you find yourself struggling with the whole college thing, read on to get the most out of your college experience.

Why is College so Hard?

College can be difficult because the courses require a level of research and independent learning that students may not be used to.

On top of that, students have to make new friends and deal with a different schedule, which can lead to anxiety and burnout.

You can feel like a tourist in the first week of college, but as the novelty starts to wear off, you might notice that your college experience is quite challenging.

If it starts feeling like you don’t belong and every aspect of college is a battle, you might wonder why college is so difficult.

Keep reading as we dive into the most problematic aspects of college, including:

  • Academics that involve taking initiative 
  • Absence of school friends
  • Difficulty forming new friends
  • A lack of routine
  • Wrong program/major selection


When people think about the challenges of a college student, they often think of classes and homework. Academics are meant to be the primary focus of college students, right?

So why are academics hard?

Because the (pre-college) school system teaches students to memorize, not theorize. College emphasizes original input and research. And most students simply don’t have enough training for it.

Check out these study hacks for college students if you’re looking for ways to make academics easier in college.

Social Changes

Outside of academics, college life can become complicated on the social scene.

Why, you ask?

Because it can feel like you’re starting from scratch with your friend groups and sense of community.

Making new friends can be challenging at any age. Even if you go to college with your school friends, you can still have a drastically different social dynamic because of:

  • Varying class schedules
  • Different mealtime routines
  • College dating

Lack Of Routine

In pre-college education, every school day is the same. In college…not so much. College classes can be drastically different in quantity and timing on other weekdays.

This randomness and constantly changing schedule make forming a routine quite tricky.

And let’s not forget about your professors.

Each teacher is different, and many act like theirs is the only class that matters. College assignments (and procrastination) can nudge you towards a nocturnal lifestyle, which can further disrupt your routine.

Humans need a routine to avoid decision fatigue. The ultra-rich and successful know this…

Mark Zuckerberg has multiple outfits that look exactly the same because he doesn’t want to spend any time picking between two different shirts.

Decision fatigue is also the reason behind Steve Jobs’ signature outfit. Even the lack of a school uniform can add further decision fatigue in a student’s life.

Poor Program (Major) Selection

Program selection is one of the biggest reasons many students hate their college life (while others look back at college days as the golden years of their life).

While each program has its challenges, you will dislike your classes if you select one that doesn’t align with your natural learning tendencies.

There are creative fields, and there are mathematical ones. If you are a creative person who has taken up a tech program, you’ll probably hate it. If you’re a mathematical person who has taken up a liberal arts program, you’ll probably hate it.

Medical programs are in a league of their own. They involve so much memorization and independent research.

Picking the right program (or changing majors) will make college easier.

Frequently Asked Questions

why is college so hard? student struggling with college

Here are some questions most new college students often ask when struggling to adapt.

Does College Get Easier?

College gets easier if students give it enough time and positive energy.

New students generally settle into a routine, form social groups, and get acclimated to the research-driven college education as they move away from the memorization-driven high school education.

Which Year of College is the Hardest?

The first year of college is the hardest for productivity, getting things done, and feeling like you belong. The final college year is the toughest for academics. The second year of college is often the easiest.

Is it Normal to Hate College?

It is normal to hate college initially. If you keep hating the experience beyond a year of college, you should reassess the program you’re in or the specific college you go to.

Seeing a student guidance counselor can help.

What Should You Do if You Are Struggling in College?

Here are a few things you can do if you are struggling in college:

  • Reassess your major/program – Sometimes, you might dislike college simply because the classes are too boring. Boredom usually happens when you are not interested in the subject. If you’re in a creative program when you’re mathematical or vice-versa, you will hate your classes. Reassessing and switching majors can help.
  • Note the specific things you dislike – The small things you dislike can amalgamate and form a foggy, vague sense of hatred. Sometimes, simply figuring out which aspect of college you hate and to what extent can help you feel better.
  • Check whether you are neurodivergent – You might have a hard time in college if you have ADHD or other neurodivergent conditions. The college system is designed for neurotypical brains, and understanding this can help you strategize how you will deal with college life.
  • Remove or minimize what you hate – Once you note down everything you dislike about college, you should figure out ways to reduce or remove the stimulus you hate. For instance, if you don’t like the people you hang out with, you can join an activity club and find new friends. If you don’t love your major, you can switch programs.
  • Balance difficulty with necessity – Finally, you must understand that college is supposed to challenge and improve you to the point where you can overcome its challenges. No college experience will consist of pleasure only. So, you must know which aspects you dislike are essential and which ones you can eliminate. As a result, you will know what you need to get used to.

Conclusion: This is Why College is So Hard

College is so hard because you’re joining it for the first time. And any new “judged” experience tends to make humans nervous or feel pressure. Additionally, a college education is mostly independent, leaving many high-school-trained students feeling out of place.

But if you eliminate one challenge at a time, you can turn your college experience into one of the most enriching of your life…so hang in there!

This post was all about why college is hard and what you can do to make it easier.

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