Tips for College Students with BPD

 In Mental Health

It is the dream of many students with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) to earn a quality college education, but many discover too late that the journey is not easy. The trek begins in the very process of applying to colleges and does not end on move-in day or even graduation day for that matter. Once a student is in school, there begins the struggle to keep attention on their books and class materials, rather than extracurricular activities or even friendships vying for their attention.

These difficulties are commonplace for the average student, however, they can have an exponential impact on students with borderline personality disorder. Through the stressors of late-night study sessions and long lectures, managing interpersonal relationships and living away from home for the first time, a battle with BPD often makes the pressures of school feel almost insurmountable.

One area that most students with BPD struggle with is a distorted sense of self. When a person is struggling with an unstable self-image, then making decisions is harder; especially when things are constantly coming up and stealing focus. One’s desire to achieve good grades is at war with the desire to withdraw from any opportunity to “put yourself out there” and risk rejection. Living with such uncertainty can make it difficult to give your studies the attention they deserve.

BPD can make college feel too much for you and make you want to avoid that discomfort, so you may choose to give in to distractions instead. If you have BPD, you may notice that you:

  • Have a difficult time committing to a major or even to electives
  • Find difficulty building relationships outside the classroom, and when you do, they tend to be very intense, but short-lived
  • Have a problem making school a priority
  • Lack of clear direction and commitment to future goals
  • Find your commitment to school starts declining as the semester rolls on due to feeling overwhelmed by self-imposed standards of perfection
  • Have high standards for yourself which you never seem to meet or just give up on altogether

BPD makes it challenging for students to negotiate what is going on inside since their emotions are constantly changing and some days feel impossible. This makes it hard to keep a solid grasp of what is happening around them.

How to manage BPD as a college student

It is possible for a student struggling with BPD to have a healthy and normal college experience, especially once they are equipped with the skills that a program like Launch Centers can offer. The most effective treatment approach found to work with those diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder is Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT).

Teaching DBT skills can help students diagnosed with BPD when they are feeling anxious, distressed, or when they feel subject to the whims of their emotions. DBT skills can be used in moments of stress, but they are also useful to prevent future escalation. Some of the DBT skills we teach in our program include:


  • Mindfulness
  • Interpersonal effectiveness
  • Emotion regulation
  • Distress tolerance


In addition to these skills, it can be important to work through exercises in identifying things you do and do not have control over. This in addition to learning to recognize and celebrate the achievement of smaller, meaningful goals will help guide you down the correct path.

College can be stressful, and especially so for those struggling with BPD, but with the right treatment program, you’ll learn the right skills to self-regulate and cope with the challenges ahead. Soon, you’ll see it is possible to be consistent and achieve success. You don’t have to drop courses, change majors, or give up on your dreams because you have BPD. There are ways to get through the difficult moments (even those that seem insurmountable) and Launch Centers is here to help prepare you for your future ahead, so contact us today.

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