College is a time for learning, and one of the most important things you learn is about yourself. As a counselor at the University of Mobile, my passion is to help students navigate the concerns and struggles that often come with the transition to college. Here are some tips to help you along the way.
1. It’s ok to seek out help when you need it.
Being a Christian doesn’t mean we won’t encounter mental health struggles, and college students are especially vulnerable. This is the time in your life where you have more freedom, but also more responsibility than ever, and it is likely the greatest transition in life you’ll ever experience. In addition, many mental health diagnoses first surface during the college years.
It’s important to reach out if you’re struggling at all, or even just come by my office in the Student Success Center to meet me so that, when you do have concerns, you already have a connection there. Counseling at the University of Mobile is completely confidential, free to students, and appointments can be scheduled online.
2. Stress is part of our human existence. It’s important to learn early on what helps you cope with it.
I think as a society we like to commiserate about how stressed we are, rather than actually tackle stress head-on or support one another in managing it. Psychology tells us that we are all wired to expect the worst (and our sin nature agrees), but God has given us an internal thermostat to manage anxiety and stress, and multiple resources in relationships, physicians, counselors, etc. so that we do not have to suffer.
Whether it’s as simple as walking the trails around campus, an introvert finding time alone in a coffee shop, or going to those awesome spin classes on campus, find what works for you and be diligent in making time for that, even when you are busy. Apps such as Welltrack and Sanvello also provide resources to students in the moment, such as breathing and relaxation exercises, and ways to track your mood, sleep, and exercise in practicing self-care.
3. Learning appropriate boundaries and how to communicate with others is hard, but vital during your college years.
If you’ve been in college for a few years, chances are you’ve had your fair share of roommate struggles or changes in friend groups. That’s completely normal. It’s important for introverts to learn how to communicate and extroverts to learn how to listen. If you’re a people-pleaser, this is the time to learn how to set boundaries with others and say “no.”
These years are the building blocks for your future marital or even professional relationships, so if communication is a struggle for you, the best thing you can do is practice. Utilize Residential Assistants for roommate difficulties or meet with UM’s career counselor in the Student Success Center for help with interviews or how to present yourself to a possible employer. Speak with your professor if you’re struggling in a class. Don’t let things build up before you address them.