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Sunday, April 21, 2024

Pay attention to mental health resources when picking a college

The best college experiences come with the best support systems

There’s nothing more exciting than receiving an acceptance letter from your top college. Choosing which school to attend can be a difficult process and is a decision that shouldn’t be made lightly. The logical way to choose would be to evaluate the practical aspects of each school –– cost, location, size, campus environment, resources and academics, among other factors.  

We are only human, however, and we are often blinded by the flashiness of most schools. Well-known sports teams, party reputations and fancy gyms tend to catch our eye before anything else does. Eventually, we make our decision and wait in anticipation until we can start our new lives come fall. 

College is life-changing. We finally get to have the freedom of being on our own (sorry, mom). We are able to meet new people and have the true “college experience” which we always dreamed of. But sometimes college can be one big reality check. Being away from our family and in an unfamiliar place is not always as glorious as we thought it would be. Navigating new situations and environments while trying to balance school and a social life can be overwhelming. 

For that reason, and many others, college students face new obstacles when it comes to mental health, which they may be unprepared to handle. Sporting events, parties and exercise are not much of a priority when anxiety and depression begin to take over your life. Instead, finding help is more essential. 

Under these circumstances, and even outside of them, it is important to be at a school that prioritizes mental health and has adequate, comprehensive resources that meet students’ needs. But if you’re like me, this thought didn’t cross your mind as you were signing your letter of intent. Most of the time, we are so eager to jump right into the fun of college that we forget to pay attention to the more important details. When the not-so-fun parts of college come around, we are unaware of the resources available to us –– leaving us feeling lost and unprepared. 

Mental health resources are not limited to counseling services. Crisis hotlines, educational programs, seminars and self-help libraries are also important and an effective means of navigating and coping with the challenges we face. It’s important that students have different options available to them as not everyone will feel comfortable with the same resources. It is equally important that students are aware of these services and how to access them. If students don’t know they have options, they won’t look for the help they need. 

Don’t get me wrong, college is just as great as it seems. But most people forget to mention how difficult and overwhelming it can also be. When we are bombarded with school work, stressed out by bills and even fight with our roommates, it’s hard to deal with it on our own. In order to thrive during good and bad times, we need to choose a college with the resources to support us academically, physically and most importantly, mentally. 

Written by: Kacey Cain — klcain@ucdavis.edu

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by individual columnists belong to the columnists alone and do not necessarily indicate the views and opinions held by The California Aggie


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