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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

New students start year depressed

The transition from high school to college can be a tumultuous time for incoming freshmen. Many new students have come to Counseling and Psychological Services this semester seeking help for homesickness.

Campus Health Service sees an influx of students at the beginning of the year trying to adjust to life at the UA.

Students who have difficulty adjusting may experience psychological or physical side effects, such as loss of appetite or increased reclusiveness.

“”We see a lot of students with an adjustment reaction with depression,”” said Debra Cox-Howard, a mental health clinician for Counseling and Psychological Services. “”They just want to go home.””

Many new students struggle with living away from their family and friends for the first time.

“”I have (had homesickness) a little bit,”” said pre-physiology freshman Mikayla Hudson. “”I miss my puppies.””

One of the reasons for difficulty adjusting is that students may not realize how different college is from high school.

“”They don’t really realize until they get here just how big this campus is,”” said Cox-Howard, noting many students complain of not fitting in or having things to do.

CAPS clinicians work to help students assess their expectations of college, partly by looking forward to fun events such as football games or Family Weekend.

“”It shifts the focus,”” Cox-Howard said. “”It gives them something to look forward to.””

Hudson said calling her parents alleviates homesickness.

“”Just talking to them a lot,”” Hudson said. “”And we’re going back (to Phoenix) this weekend for Labor Day.””

As the semester moves forward, fewer students seek attention for homesickness.

“”In general, yes, we do see it subside,”” Cox-Howard said.

Students also find it difficult to deal with the rigors of the sometimes-stressful college life.

“”We were slammed on Monday,”” Cox-Howard said. “”They were literally all saying it’s stress.””

Adjusting to dorm life, financial troubles, academics, navigating campus and finding friends can all be sources of frustration for freshmean.

“”Those all add up to stress,”” Cox-Howard said. “”It’s a different pace. It’s a different system, different demands.””

Campus Health also sees many freshmean referred to its diversion program for alcohol use.

“”At the beginning of school there is a lot of alcohol use,”” said Lynn Reyes, alcohol and drug specialist for Campus Health.

Many new students experiment with drugs and alcohol because they are in a newly unrestricted environment. They may also view alcohol consumption as a rite of passage for entering college.

“”They have these preconceived notions of what they’re supposed to be doing when they come to college,”” Cox-Howard said. “”There’s a perception that it’s ok.””

Not every new freshman uses alcohol during his or her first few weeks at the university. Some find their new responsibilities to be a detriment to their social lives.

“”Pretty much I do homework all the time,”” Hudson said. “”We have too much to do — cleaning, dishes, laundry.””

Other students find alcohol less enticing with the freedom of college.

“”Because we know we can, it’s not as much fun,”” said pre-business freshman Ashlyn Brunk.

For those who may be struggling to adjust, Reyes and Cox-Howard started the Friend 2 Friend website as a resource.

“”It was designed to help students help each other,”” Reyes said. “”A lot of times, students try to figure out things on their own or with their friends.””

The website includes information on various health topics such as drugs, alcohol, sex and mental health. There are also tips on how to approach friends with these topics.

“”Your friends are going to notice things and changes in you,”” Cox-Howard said. “”You can help your friend to help themselves.””

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