If you have an entire dorm room full of stuff ordered from Bed, Bath, and Beyond, know which textbooks need to be picked up on campus, and have been diligently exploring your new college class’ group on Facebook, this post is dedicated to you.
Whether you are going to a school in your same city, or going as far away from your hometown as possible, some things about the college experience are universal. You’ve heard from friends or family about the nostalgia of their, “college years.” You’ve seen movies depicting stereotypical experiences, such as “Pledging vs. Academics,” or the rigors of being a college athlete. You’ve also probably done your own research on what to expect, hidden gems around the campus, or what clubs you want to join, and are praying that your roommate isn’t absolutely insufferable.
Some things about the college experience aren’t as well known, even if they are still universal. For example, you should never wear open-toed shoes to a party (glass breaks, beverage spills make the floor sticky… you get it). Another example is how weird re-entry home can be over breaks. While you’ve had incredibly trans-formative experiences at school, your home has gone on without you. Returning home for that first break can be frustrating for both you and your parents; do you have a curfew?, can you come and go as you do in college? It is an adjustment for both you and your parents, so take it slow and keep the lines of communication open.
So what happens to your mental health when challenged by all the new stressors?
According to a survey conducted by the Higher Education Research Institution (HERI) of 2016’s freshmen*:
- 84% felt anxious
- 51% felt depressed
- Get moving with at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day.
- 41% felt frequently overwhelmed
- And – 47% Anticipated seeking personal counseling
(* Source: https://www.heri.ucla.edu/infographics/TFS-2016-Infographic.pdf)
No matter how many Snaps, Facebook Posts, or Instagram moments people post about the good times, be mindful that those filters don’t actually change the fact that: learning to “adult” is seriously hard sometimes. Don’t be afraid to talk about the bad times if you’re having them. Ask if you see someone else struggling. Go find your RA if you need help in the moment, or visit the college counselors office if you need more regular assistance. And at the very least, remember that, “C’s get degrees,” and there’s always next semester.