Saying No in College

6 am strikes and your alarm blares. Groan. You drag yourself out of bed and begin your day. Your sleepy mind begins to turn. Work, class, work out, go to the library… Oh, and find time to eat at some point. Flash forward to 2 am when you finally fall back into bed, dreading that 6 am alarm. You didn’t even finish everything you needed to do.

College is full of responsibilities; it truly is a whole new way of living. Coming from high school, it can be quite a challenge to adapt. As you look around campus with bright eyes, it’s easy to get in over your head and commit to everything you possibly can. Clubs? Sure! Intramurals? Of course! Getting a job on campus? Duh, a little extra cash!

Unfortunately, there are only 24 hours in a day. You might come to that harsh realization after not studying for that one “easy” class or skipping one too many meals. While the typical college kid experience is full of stress and staying up through the exhausting hours of the night, it doesn’t have to be that way.

“Don’t say maybe if you want to say no” is a quote I’ve been trying to engrain in my mind. I’ve always been the “yes girl,” so you can imagine why this two letter word is the hardest concept for me to grasp. I want to say yes to everyone. I want everyone to be happy. Deep down, I want to be the reason everyone is happy. It doesn’t always work like that. It hardly ever works like that.

In college, time management and proper boundaries require you to say no to things. If you study, you probably can’t go eat dinner with your friends. If you have a test, you might have to skip the gym or a club meeting. If your friend keeps nagging you to help with their homework but you already have plans, you might have to explain that now isn’t a good time.

It can feel weird– and even slightly wrong– to say no to people. But it doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. It just means you can’t do everything for everyone. And that’s okay. No one expects you to be able to do everything and no one should. So don’t stress about all the responsibilities college throws at you. Prioritize, realize your abilities and skills, and work within healthy time management boundaries. Learn when you need to say no, and say it. (It’s not as simple as it seems.)


For more of Kristen’s articles on life, fashion, and music, check out her blog

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Kristen Vonnoh Story by Kristen Vonnoh Published: Last Edited:

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