An inclusive and informative summary of the freshman year of college in one word is pressure. The pressure to do well in classes, pressure to make friends, pressure to be having the time of your life, pressure of looking at your life as a quasi-adult. The adjustment is filled with pressures coming from so many different places that it can be very difficult to pinpoint the problem areas. As the effects of stress are constantly thrown around, it’s normal to hear students boasting of the two hours of sleep they got the night before, or the number of times they’ve cried already. The good thing about this is that since stress isn’t a new phenomenon, universities prepare for the inevitable by offering free counseling to their students.
People often avoid therapy because of the price tag, but now that it’s free with the price of tuition, there is no reason not to take advantage of it. Young people frequently downplay the stress and anxiety they are feeling because it seems like a common problem that doesn’t deserve any attention. The first few months of college however, can be a huge source of stress, and feeling overwhelmed can become an insurmountable obstacle to being in a good state of mind.
Another big part of the hesitation to go speak to someone is that there still exists a stigma behind counseling and therapy. I’ve always seen this stigma as the fact that counseling means accepting that you can’t handle something by yourself. During my time in highschool, I could feel my anxiety growing and evolving with me, and jumping into an entirely new environment with new people left me feeling intensely vulnerable. I booked an appointment with a counselor and although I can’t say it’s a life changing experience (yet), I can say that there was so much I realized I had to get off of my chest. Counselors are there to talk about anything from troubles sleeping to depression to homesickness to school anxiety, and just airing your worries and problems can make you feel so, so much lighter.
Though counseling may not be every person’s magic fix, it can be worth the time to try one or two sessions even if it just means you talk something out. It can and usually is really hard making that first step to talking with a counselor or therapist, but college may be one of the best times to make that step. The stresses can be overwhelming and the cost is (sort of) eliminated, so why don’t more students take advantage of this resource? All I can say is that the counseling offered on campus can help you understand where a lot of stress comes from and how to minimize or deal with it. Accepting help rather than suffering without guidance could be the difference in enjoying freshman year and living for the end of the semester.