Going to college is a key moment in a person’s life. For many, it is symbolic of an individual’s personal growth from childhood to the relative maturity of young adulthood. However, going to college can be challenging for some people. In this article, we will consider six ways counseling can help a student who is tense about entering college or university for the first time.
- Managing Anxiety and Depression
Many students experience feelings of anxiety and/or depression when they set off for college. They may feel anxious about leaving home, settling into a new environment, making new friends, living on their own, or getting good grades. They may also have bouts of depression when they think about their loved ones who they may not be able to see or interact with as frequently. However, a trained therapist can help students with these issues to readjust their thinking so that problems that seem insurmountable become more manageable. A therapist can also help students to set realistic expectations for college and help them develop the skills they need to succeed in this new environment.
2. Identifying Problems
Going to college is a major life adjustment for children as well as parents. This change may contribute to the development of emotions that are difficult to understand or process. One of the most frustrating experiences some students have is knowing something is not quite right mentally or emotionally, but not being able to identify what the underlying problem is. Talking with a mental health counselor can help students (and parents) to get a better grasp of why they may be feeling the way they do. This step is very important as a problem can only be adequately solved if it is first clarified and understood.
3. Increasing Confidence
Given the many physical, educational, and social changes associated with going to college, it is understandable if some students feel a bit nervous at first. It is also natural for students to wonder if they will be able to rise and face the challenges ahead of them. However, some students feel crushed and completely overwhelmed when they think about spending four years on their own. For these students, speaking with a mental health counselor may help tremendously.
A well-trained therapist can help students to adjust negative thinking and see potential problems from new angles. In many cases, helping students to see problematic issues from a fresh perspective helps to lessen the anxiety they feel. A therapist can also help students to identify their own personal skills, talents, and strengths that will help them during their college experience. This often helps students to increase their self-worth and self-confidence.
4. Sharpening Interpersonal Skills
Going to college usually contributes to many changes in a student’s social life. New students are required to meet new people, make new friends, adjust to new authority figures, and come to terms with their own fledgling adulthood. These requirements are easier for some students than others. While a student who is naturally outgoing will likely have few problems making the needed adjustments, a student with a reserved personality may have difficulty fitting in with his or her peers.
Speaking with a therapist can help students who are shy or reserved to improve their interpersonal skills so they can communicate more effectively and build meaningful relationships in college. Some of these skills help students to improve how they listen, converse in one-on-one settings, speak publicly, manage their body language, and read the body language of other people. Students with good interpersonal skills are more likely to express themselves clearly and be understood by the people around them. They are also better equipped to manage interpersonal conflicts in positive ways that preserve relationships.
5. Improving Decision-Making Skills
Many students get their first taste of what living alone is like during their college years. With teachers treating students like full-grown adults and no parental supervision in sight, some students may be tempted to push their new found freedom to the limit. This may lead to the development of negative behaviors such as skipping classes, drinking alcohol excessively, partying too much, becoming sexually promiscuous, or experimenting with illicit drugs. However, chatting with a therapist about possible future challenges can help students to make healthy decisions when they are on their own.
6. Exploring Opportunities for Change
College is one of the most stimulating environments a person will experience in his or her lifetime. Students get an opportunity to delve into their field of interest, conduct research on topics they love, visit foreign countries to learn new cultures and languages, meet influential people, and try the things they always wanted to. College is a time of adventure and positive new experiences. However, some students may fail to take advantage of the opportunities available to them because they may be uncomfortable with change.
A therapist can help students with this issue to view college as an opportunity to become the person they really want to be. As they are surrounded by new people, students can let go of negative past experiences and embrace a more positive identity. College also provides an ideal setting for students to develop positive traits such as good time management, diligence, and a sense of personal responsibility.
College students who believe they would benefit from therapy can contact a licensed therapist at BetterHelp. BetterHelp offers online counseling sessions that can help students overcome their anxieties and stay on the path to future success.