College can be a rough time. Everything is new, there are more people, the campus is bigger and classes are very different. Often times, college freshmen feel isolated in their new environment. They are with new people in a new and much bigger place. The first semester can be the hardest because before students join activities on campus and make friends it makes the feeling of isolation worse.
With new challenges to face, many students decide to drop out. According to classesandcareers.com, up to thirty percent of college freshman drop out with health being one of the top 20 reasons for leaving. Also, according to a study conducted by Chadron State College, one in four college-age students has a diagnosable mental illness.
It is important for college students who are feeling anxious, depressed or isolated in their new environment to understand what kind of resources are available to them. They will probably never have more resources, especially free ones, available to them in their life than right now.
For those who are feeling isolated, I would recommend going to an activity fair if there is one hosted on campus- so long as you feel comfortable enough to do so. Find organizations that interest you. It is difficult to step outside your comfort zone, but getting involved s a good way to feel less isolated. In fact, many organizations have weekly meetings with other people who have the same interests. Making friends and being able to get out on campus and interact with others is the best way to reduce the feeling of isolation.
For students who are feeling depressed, anxious or are dealing with other mental health issues: In my first week at a four-year university, I learned that there is a free counseling center on campus open to students. The counselors there will help students with any issue they may be facing. Many campuses have similar resources for their students. I highly suggest this to any student who is struggling with mental health.
Many campuses also offer disability services for those who are able-bodied but require certain circumstances for tests, studying or other class-related activities. For example, students who have ADD or ADHD could request a quiet testing area or help with studying so that they have someone to help them focus.
For students who may be feeling all of the above: I suggest getting in touch with a professor. Often times, professors can provide information on counseling centers or other resources for students who are struggling.
For students who may not be able to find resources on campus, here is a link to a website with external resources.
To any new students who feel as if they are alone, this is my message: You are not alone. There are many resources available to you. Please take the time to take care of yourself and your mental health.