Article on College Pressures
I see a lot of young adults in my practice who are trying to figure out how to deal with the ten thousand demands being placed on them.
They are dealing with all new teachers (now called “professors”) who have new expectations of the kind of “quality” work a student is supposed to hand in.
Parents want to be reassured all is well and although they might not say it, they want to know their money is being well spent.
Those of you playing a sport know your coaches want multiple commitments from you involving time, heart and performance.
Friends want to go out and hang out. Boyfriends and girlfriends are adding additional stress around their relationship needs and want to be seen as a priority.
College is also a time when young adults may be beginning to question some of the things they have always known and believed about their parents and the way they think about life or maybe even some of the choices their parents make.
If you were a “good kid” who never disagreed with your parents, it may feel strange or even a little scary to suddenly start feeling irritated by how much they want to know about what you are doing at college – how well your classes are going, who you are spending time with and what you are spending money on.
College students may come to realize it is hard for parents to “let go” and permit them to be more independent and self-sufficient.
As students spend time away from their parents, they may also come to understand they have very different ways of thinking about people and the world. Young adults may start to feel good about having their own opinion on things like politics, sex, careers and lifestyle. The choices their parents may have made about their own lives may not feel like the only and “best” option now.
Those of you who are nearing graduation may also be feeling nervous about the future and what you are going to do after you leave college. What happens if you don’t get a job? Where will you live? Will you go home or not?
Arguments may be happening more frequently and people may find themselves feeling angry and at the same time, strangely worried about what these disagreements might mean.
Realizing our parents are human, with their own strengths and relative weaknesses can be tough. Learning how to accept them, flaws and all, as well as learning how to say “no” to them is not an easy task.
Learning how to navigate all of these things as well as balance school with social life can create a lot of internal stress.
Sometimes students need to “let go” and often this includes partying with friends. A lot of times “partying” goes too far and leads to vomiting, blackouts, hangovers and in extreme situations, getting involved sexually with people without awareness or consent.
This kind of drinking, also called “binge drinking,” fools a lot of people. Everyone is downing shot after shot so it doesn’t seem like too much alcohol. Everybody is getting wasted so individual behavior doesn’t seem out of control. Students can still get to class and don’t drink by themselves or on the weekends so it isn’t really “alcoholism.”
Therapy can help you figure out if your drinking is a problem and if so, what the most useful way of dealing with it.
Young people often worry if they change their drinking habits, they will have to change friends but that is not always the case.
There are many ways today that treatment can effect change, ranging from abstinence to reducing harmful risks. Certain kinds of medications can also be helpful in decreasing the urge to drink and/or treat the underlying stress that maybe pressing people to binge on alcohol.
When college life gets out of control, getting help is smart.
Abigail Blackburn, PsyD
617 . 686 . 2420