Steady counseling trends
Approximately 45 percent of the class of 2010 took advantage of the counseling services provided by the Garrison-Foster Health Center before graduation from the College. All sessions are voluntary and confidential; students return only at their own discretion. Last year, 323 students saw counselors, and 1, 711 different sessions took place. Director of Counseling Services Patricia Newmen has observed a number of trends during her 24 years here on the Hill, and states that “they are often what you’d expect.”
One consistent trend is that women tend to go [to the Counseling Center] more often than men; approximately 72 percent of the counseling sessions held during the 2009-2010 academic school year were scheduled by females. In addition, the reasons that various grades choose to receive counseling reveal steady trends. First-years often deal with the transition from high school to college. They experience homesickness, specifically when it comes to friendships. Newmen states that she often hears, “I haven’t made friends that I feel as good about as I did back home.” This feeling may stem from the fact that they don’t yet have “sense of common history and shared values,” she added. First-years also grapple with the social scene characterized by “hook-ups and alcohol consumption…They want to belong because that’s what their peers are doing, but it might be out of their comfort zone,” Newmen said. Furthermore, first-years often have to adjust to their new position in an exceptional student body. Those who were “stars in high school are finding themselves around a lot of stars, and they have to accept that,” she said,” Newmen said.
Sophomores often struggle with the transition between freshmen and sophomore year. Their friends may have been “situational friends who were on their COOT, in their classes, or within their housing proximity…sophomores find that people they were close to freshmen year were more friends of circumstance,” Newmen said. Sophomores also find themselves asking the question, “was [the College] the right choice for me?” which Newmen states is a “perfectly healthy, normal thing to ask yourself.” They are also overwhelmed with choosing a major and planning their study abroad trips. According to Newmen, they often need to hear, “you don’t have to figure it all out right now.”
Juniors, on the other hand, struggle with the fact that so many of their close friends are abroad. “They experience a shift in friend groups and social interactions,” Newmen said. On the flip side, those who were abroad first semester cope with the re-entry anxiety. They experience a heightened sense of independence abroad and find it difficult to make the transition back to a sheltered campus.
Seniors find themselves asking “what comes next?”. They deal with the pressure of choosing the right life path, and are overwhelmed by graduate school applications and the uncertain job market. They also experience familial pressure to figure out what their next move is going to be. Often, “they are feeling okay with not having a plan, but need reassurance that this is okay,” Newmen said. Seniors also experience mixed feelings about the social scene on campus; they either feel they are done with it, ready to move away from less sheltered interactions, or they believe that their last year is their last chance to be “wild and crazy.”
Newmen often finds herself saying, “I’d be more concerned if you weren’t questioning things…this is perfectly healthy and appropriate.”