Connor Gormley Small

3 Ways to Deal with Those Pre-University Anxieties


So that’s it! Joy of joys – you’ve sent off your UCAS application. Maybe the offers have come flooding in, maybe it’s more of a trickle but, either way, you’re most of the way there. It’s wonderful, it’s exciting – of course it’s exciting! – but, between the bouts of track-based binging, there is a part of you that's a little bit worried. There is a ball of tightly wound nerves nestled in the pit of your gut, and you’re not sure it should be there. It’s ok, though. I’ve got one too, let’s work this out together.

1. Talk to people

The worst thing about being anxious is the feeling that you’re alone. There is a kind of cultural optimism around the entire application process, one that demands a persistent positivity. Viewed from afar, it resembles a one-way trip to the island of butterscotch joy. Of course that is not true. This is not only a long process, it’s an incredibly important one; second guessing yourself is entirely natural. It’s just that, sitting on your own, rolling your worries around in your head, it’s spectacularly easy to forget and start getting worried about the very fact you’re worried.

Talking to people is the solution to that problem. Not only is it plain healthy to get everything out, it’s also exceptionally useful to know that someone else feels the way you do. Friends, teachers, careers counsellors, whoever, will all understand whatever worries you might have. They’ll have been through the same, or similar, processes. The value of the solidarity and the advice they might provide is not to be understated.

2. Don’t get ahead of yourself

University feels very much like the start of adult life and it’s hard to hear the words ‘adult life’ without thinking about all the attached baggage. Being suddenly, abruptly approached with the concept feels like being forced into an exam for a course you haven’t sat. It seems to demand you answer questions. The big questions. Questions about what it means to be happy and live a life that’s meaningful, questions about raising children, about making some sort of difference, about filling your CV with skills other than ‘dribbling’ and ‘eating lots of Pringles’.

Again, it’s easy to overthink, to forget that most adults don’t have it figured out themselves. No one does. Pulling through is a matter of accepting this sort of anxiety is normal and realising when you’ve overreached yourself, when you’re analysing possibilities that simply aren’t likely

3. Focus on the present

Because you’ve got a lot of stuff to focus on. Exams have an irritating tendency to just sort of…happen when you’re busy worrying about other stuff, so maybe throwing yourself into the revision-based bathwater a little early is a good idea. Or, if you’re the sort of celestial super-being capable of properly managing their time, starting a new hobby might be exactly what you need. Maybe start a blog or take up karate, so long as you’re pumping all that anxious energy into something positive, you should be ok.

Because it will be ok! Wherever you go and whatever you’re doing, university is a powerful, positive thing. Look forward to it.