College students face mental adversities during COVID-19

Two years into the pandemic, and many college students are struggling with maintaining a healthy mental state. COVID-19 forced many schools to transition to virtual learning, which left students, like myself, with limited opportunities and the feeling that we had been deprived of the more traditional and genuine aspects of college we had all hoped to experience.

Shane Tilton, advisor and associate professor of multimedia journalism at Ohio Northern University says, “Their last two years have forced them to shift how they socialize and how they learn,” noting that a lack of socialization is what concerns him the most.

“They seem to struggle with the transition from home life to dorm life,” Tilton says. “I've been teaching for more than 20 years. I have not heard as many stories of roommate conflicts, vandalism, and general community breakdowns as I have in the last 18 months.”

As a third year college student, I know the struggle all too well. The pressure of trying to balance school, work, and being far from home was causing an unhealthy amount of stress, so it seemed the best decision for me was to transfer to a different school—closer to home.

Choosing to thrive in a new environment can serve as a reset to a healthy mental state, and being able to acknowledge when something is wrong is one of the first steps to a better mindset. As Dr. Tilton says, "Don't panic. This is the way to happiness."

A lack of socialization is not the only problematic experience college students have endured throughout the pandemic, as educational aspects have also suffered.

“There seems to be less focus in the classroom and more issues with deadlines,” says Tilton.

Dealing with these types of obstacles can take a toll on one’s mental state, especially when one’s life takes a quick turn of events.

The opportunity to receive effective and useful advice is what many college students are looking for when it comes to overcoming stressful situations.

“Understand that you are in a new environment, and it is very easy to feel overwhelmed,” Tilton continues. “Talk to your professors, your RA, counselors, and other support staff on campus. They can help if you communicate with them what is happening.”

Taking the initiative to reach out and ask for help is key when it comes to returning to a healthy mental state. After being in college during the pandemic, and experiencing and overcoming adversity myself, I have come to the conclusion that being assertive in making better choices to improve one’s mental state is vital to a student’s success.

Trinity Hudgins is a rising senior studying broadcasting and media. She recently transferred from Ohio Northern University to University of Cincinnati and is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists and graduate of Winton Woods High School. Trinity served as a peer mentor for Voices of Youth during the Shroder High School Summer Scholars pilot program.

Voices of Youth is made possible with underwriting support from Cincinnati Public Schools. The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent those of Cincinnati Public Schools.
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