College, Mental Health, and the Pandemic


Like all other things in life, college is about balance.

It is almost like an art form, balancing studying with partying, hard work with leisure. It is a young person’s first glimpse into the challenge of adulthood. With challenge comes risk, hardship, success, and growth. So much potential for success and failure, which begs the question how will one adapt? And furthermore, what will it cost this person? 

College became part of the American dream as a means to an end. In order to get a good paying, better than fast-food restaurant job, you needed a diploma from a college or university in some specific field of study. I think it became so fundamental and expected of young upcoming professionals that a lot of them didn’t stop and ask themselves if this was really something they wanted. Even for the ones that do want to go to college, it is the 

most challenging academic experience of a person’s life up to that point. There can be a mental price to pay for this experience along with the financial one. This isn’t to demonize college either, because there is plenty of opportunity to get help with school work and mental health. But there is a certain amount of stress that comes with excelling in college, let alone completing it. 

Old Habits - New Habits signpost with forest backgroundTo add to that stress, a little over a year ago the world was struck with a global pandemic. COVID-19 sent the entire world into a lock down and forced colleges to totally reconstruct the learning environment. Online virtual learning was the only option to continue education in all realms of t

eaching, from kindergarten through graduate school. This format was far from perfect and required hours of time in front of a screen which was already a problem for America’s younger generation. Without an in-person experience to accommodate the rigorous coursework, stress definitely increased for me. 

That’s not to say colleges were doing anything wrong, they were trying their best to continue to provide an education for the students that were paying tons of money for it. I will say, in my experience, it was very ineffective. I was able to skip classes, use resources to do well but at the same time retain none of the information I was suppose to learn. This is partly my fault because I didn’t fully apply myself but I refused to spend 8-10 hours a day looking at a screen. Even now as we come to the end of the pandemic, I still spend probably around 4-6 hours looking at my computer and even that bothers me. 

So how could a student mitigate the new level of stress that comes with living through a pandemic, straining their mind and eyes staring at screens all day and effectively learning a solid amount of the class content presented to them? It seems like a loaded question. Especially because there can be stigmas that come with asking for mental or educational help. A student may not experience a lot external judgement in 2021 for asking for help but there’s an internal struggle that some may have to face. When facing mental or educational struggle, one may not want to ask for help and potentially come off as incompetent, weak, or lazy but on the other hand some may ask for help too much and not put in any effort at all. Stigmas can be tough to get past. On an individual level, as a student, the best way to handle stigmas is mindset. If you can establish a mindset that allows you to look past negative opinions then you will succeed.


By: Project Courage