Between classes, work, social life and other “adulting” things, life as a college student often feels overwhelming. “It feels like I’m drowning” is a phrase that commonly slips out of students’ mouths. But while there’s no class for “adulting” in college, there are plenty of books designed to help college kids balance the everchanging world college kids live in.
Check out these 15 Self-Help books for all the questions and struggles plaguing your life.
1) Adulting: How to Become a Grown-Up in 535 Easy(ish) Steps
The biggest question freshmen ask themselves often resembles, “How do I become an adult?” From cooking hints to basic maintenance tips Kelly Brown’s got you covered. Within these pages, Brown describes simple tips and tricks that balance out those “typical freshman” questions. For example, eating the right foods falls under the “adulting” category, so “step #310: Purchase real food” and “step #313: Pay attention to portions” state and explain how adults can keep that proper diet. “I’d probably want to read it in my mid-20s, that gives me a chance to figure things out on my own but still lets me know what to change or fix before I really start adulthood,” said Brittany Morgan, a senior at Southeast Missouri State University senior. With Brown’s book, the big scary world of adulting turns into a cuddly teddy bear.
2) The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
Extra-curricular activities produce leaders and visionaries like Stephen King produces novels. Becoming a leader (especially a good one) involves taking on a lot of pressure that many people don’t see on the surface. That is until the leader finally snaps. Keeping your cool in times of stress is the key to being a good leader. In Stephen R. Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Covey shares the key secrets to keeping your cool through building new habits. “Habit 1: Be Proactive” not only starts the book but sparks new thinking on how students deal with stress.
3) Girl, Wash Your Face
The amount of times we see other college students crying in the library, coffee shops, hallways, dorms, bathrooms, etc. is tragic. Too often do students fall into the mental narrative of “I’m not good enough”. In Rachel Hollis’ book, Girl, Wash Your Face, she explores these lies that culture (and frankly school) have taught us and then breaks them down. Hollis shares her personal stories and struggles from her life and how the lies that we often believe are still just lies. “I acknowledged my own hard work and the achievements of my company, and I learned to rest in the knowledge that I will still be okay even if both those things go away tomorrow.” The lies we tell ourselves are as temporary as the storm clouds over the Midwest. Just because all you see is the storm doesn’t mean the sky stopped being blue.
4) The Happiness Project
The cliché of “carpe diem” isn’t so much of a cliché after all. More and more college students are working towards things that will make them happy in a world that seems to forbid happiness. In Gretchen Rubin’s book, The Happiness Project, Rubin tells an all too familiar story of going through the motions of everyday life. “I had a sudden realization: I was in danger of wasting my life,” Ruben says in her book. Wasting time pushing through a class or a job that doesn’t provide some form of happiness seems dangerous. The rest of Rubin’s novel talks about the small steps she took to change her life around and instead of carpe diem, she’s seizing the happiness.
5) Everybody Always
Much like The Happiness Project, the novel Everybody Always challenges the harsh reality people have come to accept. For many college students, there’s always that one warm day in April when a religious individual takes it upon themselves to scream passages from the bible at the students. With these passages often comes insults and harsh words that hit those very insecurities we try and hide. Everybody Always focuses on teaching people how to be a symbol of love. In a world full of hate and people who attack others, being love makes life a little sweeter. “It’s this simple; I want people to meet you and me and feel like they’ve just met everyone in heaven,” Goff says in his book. The world (and sometimes our minds) are too full of hate; it’s time to learn to love.
6) Simple Secrets to a Happy Life: 50 Ways to Make the Most of Every Day
From the time that alarm goes off at 6 a.m. until the moment your eyes finally shut for the day, a million and one different events occur. Achieving those million and one events takes at least six cups of coffee and a few granola bars instead of meals. By the end of it all, you’re exhausted. In Luci Swindoll’s book, Simple Secrets to a Happy Life, Swindoll breaks down the little things we don’t think about (like eating a good meal) and gives tips on how to stop, breathe and put your best foot forward. “During my freshman year where I was trying to balance long stressful nights with homework and maintaining a social life, I wish I would have read this book and learned what I know now about balancing life in college,” said the University of Missouri junior Dalton Reynolds. Pick up this book the next time you reach for the sixth cup of coffee.
7) Perfect Health Diet
Another giant struggle plaguing college students is their diet. On-campus dining, microwavable meals and quick on-the-go foods bring your body down rather than giving you the energy you need. The excuses “healthy food is too expensive” or “I don’t have time to sit and cook” are valid but they don’t have to be the reason you’ve got McDonald’s for the seventh time this week. Perfect Health Diet by Dr. Paul Jaminet and Dr. Shou-Ching Jaminet takes the time to explain why each food group both helps and hurts the body. From these explanations, readers can learn what kinds of foods they need and how to use them most effectively. At the end of each chapter, there are meal prep guides and takeaways on what was covered in each chapter and how to use it.
8) Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
Stress and College go together like peanut butter and jelly; it often feels like you can’t have one without the other. If you’re not stressed then it feels like you’re failing. Feeling stressed out in college doesn’t have to be the norm. In David Allen’s book, he breaks down easy to do steps to bring those college stress levels at bay. The secret? Organizing each and every aspect of your life not only gives you a sense of control in the chaos but also provides clarity in the more complex areas. “Having a total and seamless system of organization in place gives you tremendous power because it allows your mind to let go of lower-level thinking and graduate to intuitive focusing, undistracted by matters that haven’t been dealt with appropriately,” Allen says. So instead of panicking over the mile-long to-do list, breathe, grab a cup of coffee and take your time getting organized. “Reading a book like this for me would help me improve my time management skills and help me stay on track and get my tasks done,” said the University of Missouri senior Maggie McNay. Getting organized and staying stress-free keeps the PB&J of life salty and sweet.
9) Small Move, Big Change
The transition from high school to college is no joke. Responsibility clings to you like a kindergartener to their mom on the first day of school. Unfortunately, this kindergartener doesn’t let go. “Overwhelming” can’t come close to describing the feeling many college freshmen feel their first year at university. Caroline L. Arnold understands this completely. Her book takes on the challenge of “overwhelming” and helps bring it down to a more manageable level, one small piece at a time. Arnold describes it as “achieving resolutions;” those things and goals you want to reach but never seem to hold on tight enough to get there. “I wish I would have read this before starting college, because moving away from home is a big change, especially changing cities,” said University of Missouri freshman Matthew Sides. So instead of dismissing all those goals you have for the semester, check out Arnold’s tips and put that checkmark by those resolutions.
10) Thinking Fast and Slow
Back in middle school, science always said that boys and girls think differently; boys being very compartmentalized like a waffle while girls were more of an intricate plate of spaghetti noodles. Daniel Kahneman challenges those middle school science lessons and says that each person has two types of thinking. Understanding the types of thinking that go on inside our brains allows each of us to go through those thoughts and responses and see “was that the best way to respond to this situation?” Don’t let your mind run like a bullet, instead embrace your inner tortoise and slow down.
11) Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy
Once cold weather hits, tailgates come to a close and sweatpants become as common as seasonal depression. The lack of light outside mimics the empty feeling in our hearts that pull us back into our beds and not to our 8 a.m. discussion. It can often seem like Jack Frost is determined to not let us be happy during his reign of frost. Dr. David Burns has “the sun” in his book, Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy that will help kick Jack Frost to the curb even in the coldest temps. Removing the negative thoughts and feelings to make room for happy positive thoughts is the key to “feeling good”.
12) Think and Grow Rich!
When people hear the word college they immediately think “broke”. The stereotype of the “broke college kid” isn’t that far off from the truth. It would seem that getting rich while in college is as impossible as pigs flying. Napoleon Hill believes that flying pork is possible and getting rich in college can happen. The key isn’t to save every penny and never go out, but rather to be smart with your money. By thinking about your money, you will grow rich.
13) There is Life After College
For many college students, there are only a few months left of school forever. In a sense, it feels like life is finally ending. No more parties, staying out late with friends, eating endless snacks and so much more. Contrary to popular belief though, just because you get your degree doesn’t mean that life has to stop. Jeff Selingo writes about the positives that come with finishing college as well as hope that while this story is ending, a great new one is just beginning. “I met some of my best friends in college and I can truly say I have great memories. Whenever I would come home from breaks, people would always tell me, ‘Enjoy it while it lasts!’ I would get so frustrated by that because I didn’t want college to be the best time of my life,” said Northwest University alumni Cassidy Purdy. “There is Life After College would have been helpful so I would have known that college didn’t have to be the high point of my life.” Positives about the job market and insights into all the cool parts of being an adult that no one talks about are all hidden within the pages of this book.
14) The Art of Learning
It seems inevitable that everyone will have some class each semester that they can’t stand. Boring lectures, dense material and concepts that seem so complex that you question if you’re in a rocket science class. But college kids are persistent, we push through because “D’s get degrees.” Josh Waitzkin writes his book The Art of Learning not about how to become a better in-class learner, but to become a better learner of yourself. “As someone who strives to be a lifelong learner, reading a book about learning and how to get better at it would be something really beneficial to me,” said the University of Missouri senior Andrew Sides. Once you’ve mastered learning about yourself then the rest seems to fall in place.
15) In Conclusion: Don’t Worry About It
There were a lot of things in this article that offers such good advice. But out of all of the books, this one is our favorite. It compares to a warm chocolate chip cookie and a glass of cold milk after a hard day. “The start of the semester, midterms and finals week are the most stressful times for me and learning how to not worry about things I can’t control is something I would have liked to work on more,” said the University of Missouri senior Angie McNay. It won’t fix all the problems, but it reminds you that at the end of the day the old cliché, “If it doesn’t matter in five minutes then it doesn’t matter at all.”