Friday 15 December 2017

Marie Murray: Stress of college life comes as a shock for new students

What does it take to survive in college? Campuses of all kinds are buzzing this week.The energy and excitement is tangible with that special kind of activity and enthusiasm that only the young can generate. It is fantastic. This is the beginning of a great time; college, new friends, accommodation away from home, independence and adventure.

But in all the excitement it is worth remembering that even the changes we welcome can bring psychological stress. Being prepared for college is important so that the fun doesn't turn into disappointment, drop-out and feelings of failure. Because after the initial high, students can sometimes hit an unexpected low as the many demands of college kick in and individual students begin to think that they are the only ones finding it hard to settle into college life.

There's a lot of research on patterns of non-completion amongst first-year students and how psychological distress and depression can creep in unawares. Lack of psychological preparation is high on the list of why people don't cope because no matter how happy students are to get out of school, going to college brings challenging change. With the loss of the school structure students have to take personal responsibility for attendance at lectures, study schedules, assignments, time-management and the stress of exams. The personal attention of teachers in the familiarity of school can change to a big impersonal campus that students have to find their way around.

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