Common Emotional Conflicts

As students transition from high school to college, they experience varying levels of stress as they go from being dependent to independent.  Some students will be great at managing their time, others will have difficulty determining how to study, manage their money, and prepare for examinations.  In addition to these changing skills, students will also meet people from different cultures, ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds, as college will bring a diversity of experiences.

The issues represented below are the common emotional conflicts students may experience their first year.  Please note, not all students have these experiences, but may exhibit signs of these. 

September
*Values crisis:  Students may be confronted with issues related to race, drugs, alcohol, religion and sexual expectations. 
*Some students may not perform well on their first examination.  This will cause them to question their ability to be
  successful in college. 
*Culture Shock: Students who come from homogeneous environments may be overwhelmed by the new experiences and situations. 
*Stress: Can develop from financial aid problems, lack of organizational skills, restrictive policies, etc. 
*Time Management:  Students have difficulty balancing academic schedules with job requirements and social activities. 

October
*Freshmen begin to realize that life in college is not as perfect as they were led to believe.  Many movies depict college as parties and fun, hardly are there movies that portray the amount of studying and preparation needed to do well in their courses. 
*Depression may occur if students do not feel like they fit in, or if they have not made new friends. 
*Midterm exams and workload pressures typically develop.  Some students will have feelings of failure and loss of self esteem if their grades are not comparable to high school.
*Sexual conflicts and confusion result when confronting, for the first time, different heterosexual standards and homosexuality. 
*Non-dating students may experience a loss of esteem because of the value placed on dating.  They may experience feelings of rejection, loneliness or guilt. 

November
*Academic pressure begins to mount because of students' procrastination and lack of motivation. 
*Depression and anxiety often increase because students feel they should be adjusted to their college environment by now.
*Economic anxiety increases, as funds from parents, grants, and loans begin to run out. 
*Anxiety, fear, and guilt increase as final examinations approach and papers are due.

December
*Extracurricular time strain as students balance between seasonal parties, concerts, social service projects and religious activities. 
*Drug and alcohol use can increase.
*Students receive fall grades, some may not have done as well as they believed. 
*Pre-christmas depression can occur, as students consider how to purchase gifts for their families.

January (short)
*Some students experience post Christmas depression.
*Snow and bad weather can cause a great deal of anxiety or seasonal depression.
*Students sometimes have a hard time transitioning back into the college habit. 

February
*Cabin fever, or being inside too long makes students uneasy, uptight and on edge.
*Many students experience pessimism because second semester is perceived as going down hill.
*Vocational choices can cause anxiety and depression.
*Depression often increases for those students who have failed to establish social relationships or achieve a moderate amount of recognition.

March
*Depression may begin due to anticipation of spring break.  
*Academic pressures often increase because of midterms.

April
*Frustration and confusion develop because of decisions necessary for pre-registration.
*Summer job pressures begin to mount.
*Students may feel pressured to select a major.
*The mounting academic pressures can force some students to temporarily give up.

May
*Anxiety, fear, and guilt increase as final examinations approach and papers are due.
*Summer job pressures continue to mount. 
*Time management may become problematic as students participate in end of the year activities.