Welcome to 2022! College students are nearly all back on campus, though not everyone is having in-person learning yet. As we head into the spring semester, here is my short list of what I wish every student knew:
- Spring semester freshman year (or transfer students’ second semester) is VERY often the time that things start to click. Especially if you felt alone or like you didn’t fit in during the fall, DON’T GIVE UP! Join study groups in your classes (even if virtual) and keep trying new organizations/clubs and going to different types of events. Schedule at least one event every other week. You WILL find “your people”- we see this every year.
- Everyone is struggling! We all have pandemic fatigue, and it’s weighing heavily on our shoulders. Many college students are feeling cheated out of some of their “best years” and are worrying about the scarcity of internships and jobs. Obviously, we can’t control the world or even our school, so focus on what you CAN control- your own health.
- EXERCISE daily (brisk walking counts!) to raise those happy neurotransmitters in your brain.
- IMPROVE your nutrition- it’s easy to go all day without fruits or vegetables if you aren’t paying attention. Make the effort to get a smoothie or salad, rather than sticking to a granola bar, burger, fries, pizza or sandwich.
- SLEEP is critical! Try to get up at the same time every day to be set your brain’s sleep/wake cycle. (See this post on insomnia for more info.)
- LIMIT CAFFEINE- especially if you are feeling anxious or having trouble sleeping, cut way back on your caffeine.
- If you are feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or depressed, PLEASE seek counseling! Many schools have excellent mental health teams, and if your school does not, they should be able to help you find a provider in the community. Check this post for more stress-relieving tips.)
- Give yourself a “Do-Over” if you want or need one! It’s easy to fall into thinking that once you’ve started having sex, binge drinking, smoking pot (or fill in the blank) that people expect you to continue that choice. But guess what? Their expectations are only that. Give yourself permission to change behaviors/choices that no longer work and/or don’t fit your image of who you want to be. If you need to, change your friend group, too. It’s really hard to be that one person in a group that makes a different choice- not impossible, but often tough. Friend groups evolve and sometimes change completely, especially in college. That first roommate or girl or boy friend MIGHT be your BFF for life, but very often, they are not. It’s okay.
- If you REALLY hate your major, consider a change. 10% of students change their major more than once. Being brilliant in math does not mean you have to be an accountant, nor do you need to be a lawyer/doctor/artist just because everyone in your family does that or because you have the right skill set. Take advantage of aptitude testing and talk with professors in departments that interest you to learn about different careers.
BOTTOM LINE: I wish you all a great semester and good health! Let’s control what we can, and make extra effort to reach out to those who are struggling.