A Note to The Struggling College Student
Updated: May 16, 2021
These past couple of months, this blog has been neglected. I have not written for fun, nor have I taken a deep breath. This thing that we call college is exhausting. I have discussed a lot about my journey with COVID, and my journey with working in healthcare in late, but I don’t think I have ever written a post about college.
I go to my dream school. Shenandoah University is a small private university, and yes, it costs me an arm and a leg, but I love the people. I’m a people person, and the reason I choose that school and fell in love with it is because of the people. When fall of 2020 rolled around and we were allowed to go to class in-person, but of course with a lot of precautions, I was so excited. I missed my people at university. But as you may know, I got COVID in September of 2020 and therefore this school year did not work out that way. I ended up passing my fall semester by the grace of God without any c’s or d’s, despite having moved to all online instruction and not really retaining information like I once had.
In January of this year, when I found myself wanting to go back to in-person instruction I just didn’t have the energy and was not healed enough from COVID. Therefore, I spent a third semester in online instruction. On top of it all, I had a senior capstone, and one of my harder classes this semester, and because I wasn’t in person, I felt disconnected, out of touch, lonely, and unmotivated for most of the semester. These past couple of months, I have lived in a sort of tunnel vision survival mode. I have not journaled, done my nails, or even taken the time to wash my face daily.
I’m writing this, because all too often, we college kids just suck it up. We post about the success, and about graduation, and on occasion you may see one or two complaints, but for the most part, we tend to only talk about how hard this time is amongst ourselves. There are discussions of how to survive sleep deprivation. There are late-night study groups and meetings that can last till 11 PM. There are group chats that help with being able to voice frustrations. And for the most part, college is not always this youthful time of partying that movies make it out to be. Instead, it's filled with hours of anxiety, depression, sleep deprivation, and shitty time management skills. It’s a trigger for obsessive tendencies such as checking your grades every 15 minutes and/or grade calculating every day.
I’m so lucky to go to a tight-knit school where everyone somehow knows each other because we help one another. There is something so endearing about struggling through these difficult years as a group. There are moments in the silence where someone notices you and all your stress. There are mental health check-in lunches where you just listen and give a hug or two, and validate that someone is not alone.
And don’t get me wrong, there are still moments of pure magic. There are still moments of joy and fun. There are still group hangouts that turn into spontaneous awful group singing and there are still trips, and Wakanda Wednesdays, and friendships to last a lifetime. There are still so many beautiful moments, but they don’t always equal out the years of stress.
To the high school kid entering college, I say this to you. No, it’s nothing like what you wish or imagined it to be. It’s hard work, it's late nights, it's exhaustion, and all too often you’re ripping your hair out. And no matter how many AP classes you took, you still may not be prepared. And no matter how good your time management skills are, you may still be working against the clock. It’s responsibilities and adulting, and self-motivation and debt. But know that as long as you have people, amazing people, who will struggle with you, you will make it through. Meet people, make friends with healthy, driven, and fun people. And I promise you, you will survive.
To the struggling student who’s disappointed in themselves and feels like a failure, just know I see you and hear you. I am with you. I did not get the grades I was hoping for this semester. I did not get the moments I wished for this semester, and I did not get the time I wanted. Instead, I got dealt a hand of exhaustion. And therefore, I want you to know that I feel you. And it’s okay to not show the struggle and disappointment and hide behind that Instagram post of how happy you are for summer. It’s okay. You are not a failure, you are a success, and you are destined for amazing and beautiful things, no matter the grades.
Lastly, parents and support people, if you know a college student who is in the midst of it all, check in on them. There are so many wonderful students I know and love, who work tirelessly to succeed, and all too often don’t disclose the fact that they stayed up till 4 in the morning for an essay and had to get up for a track meet the next day at 6:30 AM. There are so many wonderful student leaders with long resumes, and smiles used by the college marketing department, who are shells of who they used to be because of burnout, and stress, and anxiety. So, check on them. Say hi, and ask them, “What have you experienced this semester?”. This open-ended question allows for an open conversation.
This semester is coming to a wrap with finals week coming up, and I’m so blessed to have made it this far. But most of all, this blog post is for my peeps. Thank you to the meme master, the princess, and the queen, the smartest of them all, my WV gal, the forgetful fish, and so many others. You know who you are. I love y’all, and I’m proud of all of us. You know who to call when you need a pick me up. And to the class of 2021, I’m so proud of you. Never forget how hard you worked. You earned it.
P.S. Mom, I'm so proud of you. Y'all this woman legit always has better grades than me. She's on fire! Congrats on finishing your year with bomb grades.