The Importance of a Support System

By CSU Global - February 17th, 2020

hands in

Thank you to my husband Eric for all the love and support you gave me every single step of the way. I truly appreciate it and I couldn’t have done it without you. I would also like to say thank you to my four beautiful daughters. … Allowing me to step back and finish this degree means more to me than you’ll ever know. – Amanda Gustafson

I’d just like to quickly thank my family for supporting me through this process. … To my beautiful wife Mallory and my son Kelton. I love you guys. – Timothy Sheahen 

I would like to thank a few people that made a difference in my life. One, I want to thank my husband for being there for me for taking all the initiative to pay my student fees. Secondly, I want to thank my husband and my children for being there for me, for taking on the role of doing all the household chores, ensuring that everything was well. – Sheila Benyenya

The above are just three snippets of dozens of “thank you” video submissions we received from the graduating class of 2019. Every student’s journey toward earning their degree is personal and unique, but most students have something in common: the impact of their support system — composed of close relationships with family, friends, and/or coworkers — through the process. 

Many CSU Global students balance school work with full- or part-time jobs, family, and personal relationships. The combination of these activities can be stressful and can feel isolating at times. That’s where a strong support system comes in. Read on to learn about the benefits of a support system and how it can help you stay on track as you earn your degree. 

Benefits of a Support System

A strong support system has psychological and emotional benefits, from increased self esteem to lowered blood pressure. Support systems also help students alleviate mental distress and increase their ability to cope with stressful situations. A strong support or social network has an impact on your overall health — those with good friends tend to live longer and generally boast stronger immune systems. 

Even more telling is the effect the absence of a support system has on people — research shows that a lack of social or interpersonal connections is as detrimental to your health as smoking, drinking, or leading a sedentary lifestyle. 

When you’re on the path to earning your degree, your ability to cope with stress and keep yourself healthy is more important than ever. A strong support system can make a big difference. 

How to Build a Support System

Building a support system can feel overwhelming, but there’s no need to stress. Where professional relationships and mentorships may require a bit more formality in approach, building a social/emotional support system can be much more casual. 

First, evaluate your existing network. Are there friends you can lean on or whom you feel especially close to? Reach out and set a coffee date, or make a plan to catch up over the phone. 

Try strengthening newer or less developed friendships by going to a movie, going for a walk, or getting lunch together. 

Your family and close relationships are obvious (and likely automatic) members of your support system. The key, though, is to communicate your needs to them — they may not realize you need a bit more support than usual. Ask your family to pitch in with household chores, plan a weekend outing, or help you study for a quiz. 

If you find yourself between school terms or with a bit more time on your hands, then consider volunteering. Volunteering can help you make connections through shared experiences and expand your network. Or, try a new activity — Meetup.com provides ample opportunities to connect with like-minded individuals through outdoor activities, book clubs, live music or comedy shows, and more. 

How to Nurture Your Support System (Even When You’re Busy)

Once you have a support system in place, it’s important to nurture your relationships with the individuals in it. Communicate your availability clearly, and always keep in mind that your friends and family will understand if you need to take a step back to study. As with any relationship, it’s important that both parties make an effort to keep it strong and healthy. 

These don’t have to be large events. A cup of coffee during the day, getting your kids together for a playdate, a phone call on your way to work — these are all simple methods of nurturing relationships that will help keep your support network strong. 

Try combining activities, too! Run errands, go grocery shopping, or hit the gym with a friend. You’ll whittle down your to-do list while getting beneficial facetime with members of your support network. 

A strong support system can put success and degree completion even closer within reach. It’s never too early or too late to start cultivating your support system as you earn your degree. 

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