The transition to college can be challenging.
One of the biggest differences between high school and college is the shift in responsibility. It is up to you to create your class schedule, make the effort to get to know your professors, ensure that you know the material being taught in your classes, decide when to go to bed and wake up, determine what is an appropriate diet and speak up if you need help. These demands can be overwhelming and can affect your mental health.
Mental health is something that is often pushed under the rug. Often, we are reluctant to take care of ourselves. Sometimes there is a stigma associated with self-care — that it is selfish and that we just need to “toughen up” —but that shouldn’t be the case at all.
Without proper care for ourselves, we are more likely to make careless mistakes. Additionally, ignoring this can have lasting negative effects. After all, your mental health affects your emotional, social and psychological well-being.
Your years in college can be some of the best of your life, but only if you learn to take care of yourself. Here are some lessons (and solutions) to take with you as you tackle college and prepare for your future.
1. It’s okay to be unsure of what you want to study.
Sometimes, it may feel as if there is pressure to immediately know what you want to study in college. You may even find yourself wanting to change your major. If you fall in either of these boats, know that you are not the only one — many of your peers are experiencing this, too.
You have a lot of time to figure out what you want to do. You have about four years of new experiences coming your way, during which you will learn a lot about yourself. Many college students even end up changing their major at least once during their college career.
Solution: At Marymount, you can go to the Center for Career Development if you need help determining your career path.
2. It’s okay to need help taking care of yourself.
Mom or Dad aren’t necessarily there to schedule your next doctor’s appointment. Your well-being, both physical and mental, is important in making it through the day. Being healthy in body, mind and spirit will enable you to be a better student. Taking care of yourself will allow you to succeed as a student — whether it be paying attention in class, developing good study habits or simply living and loving college in the moment. Feeling under the weather and don’t know what to do?
Solution: At Marymount, you can go to the Student Health Center if you are feeling sick or in need of routine health services.
3. It’s okay to seek someone to talk to.
Whatever it is that you may be going through, know that you do not have to go through it alone. There are many faculty and staff members whose doors are open and are willing to listen and help you find a solution.
One great, and very underrated, resource is counseling. Counseling isn’t only for people with serious problems or a visible sign of weakness. Really, everyone could use some counseling. Talking to a counselor gives you a safe place to express what is going on in your life and let it all out.
Acknowledging that there is something going on is a sign of strength and demonstrates that you want to move forward.
Solution: At Marymount, you can go to the Counseling Center — a safe, nonjudgmental place where you can confide in a licensed counselor.
4. It’s okay to sit back and relax.
College students have a lot on their plates. You may be familiar with the tri diagram that depicts three aspects of a college student’s life — academics, social life and sleep. This diagram tries to display that it is only possible to pick two of the three aspects to focus on.
That isn’t true, though. While you’ll be spending hours studying or dedicated to other commitments aside from academics, it’s good to make time for yourself every day in which you can take a deep breath and just relax.
Solution: At Marymount, you can go to the Rose Benté Lee Center, a multipurpose activity center with a café, athletic facilities, fitness area and more.
Whether it is seeking guidance or taking a break when you need it, there will be times where you need to take a step back and evaluate what is best for your mental health. Making the right changes in your life doesn’t always happen overnight.
You are going to have times when you fall and have to stand back up, which will happen more than just once — but that’s okay. With the right resources and the right team of faculty and staff who cares about more than just your academic well-being, you can thrive instead of just surviving in college.
These challenges can be overcome, and you can have a great college experience.