Dr. Veena Krishnan
For any student, college life is the most anticipated phase of his/her life. However, for some, this life may not be all fun and frolic as it may seem. Often, it comes with a lot of challenges like peer pressure, anxiety etc. which can be a lot to handle for any young mind stepping out of his/her comfort zone for the first time. The findings of the 2016 Lokniti-CSDS Youth Survey indicate that around four out of 10 youngsters who are currently studying had felt regular or occasional depression/tension during the past couple of years.
The data is vexing when it comes to ensuring a healthy mind and soul for the students. To address this, experts have crafted guidelines that should be taken in regard to make a sharper shift to the concept of Positive Education — an approach that blends academic learning with character and well-being.
Here are a few tips that students should keep in mind to combat challenges faced by them:
Transition from school to college curriculum
Life away from home comes with a lot of responsibilities and challenges. Unlike schools, colleges do not spoon feed the curriculum to their students, instead try and inculcate the habit of self-study in them for a more holistic academic progression. Students are often not prepared to make this shift from their comfortable and protected school life to a tougher and a responsible one.
Tip: Start by surrounding yourself with supportive people and avoid comparisons of any kind. Keeping yourself organised and efficiently managing time is the counsel that will not just help you survive college but also excel at it. Try and find an industry mentor if possible.
Students who travel away from home for the first time often face homesickness due to lack of familiarity, belongingness and all the pressures of staying without a proper care-taker.
Tip: Homesickness is a concern felt by almost every student staying away from home and is completely normal. The only solution for this is to go out, keep yourself busy and make new friends who provide real comfort. You may also carry fond memories of home in the form of photographs, beddings, etc. However, you must know that it is a slow and gradual process and needs time.
Challenge of fitting in a social circle
Students in a college come from all kinds of backgrounds, cultures, lifestyles, social experiences and values. Therefore, at times it is hard for them to fit into a circle or be able to make friends at all. Since ‘friends’ make family away from home for any outstation student, the lack of it can hamper an individual’s confidence and lead to isolation and anxiety. Students frequently have to cope with the struggles of facing racism and discrimination on the basis of their social status.
Tip: A proper induction process is recommended along with the provision of a “buddy” who will be a familiar face in a not so familiar environment. Having someone from within will give a better perspective to the fresher and thereby, help him/her adjust easier.
General mental health awareness
In spite of all the efforts that universities are taking these days to ease the transition by providing a counsellor or a mentor to each student, students often end up facing isolation and loneliness leading to depression because of peer pressure and other internal issues.
Tip: Learn to be assertive and stand up for yourself. It is up to you to set boundaries and communicate those.
It is ok to ask for help
Low motivation in handling daily tasks and loss of interest in all activities is an important sign that student is feeling the stress of being in a college. Students, their friends and parents should look out for any of these early signs and immediately seek help and guidance.
— The writer is Senior Clinical Psychologist & Student Counsellor at UPES, Dehradun
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