Monday, December 28, 2015

Colleges Give Snowflakes Free Massages

Trigger Warning:
Happy ending not included...or is it?
College can be a very stressful time for freshmen.  You've got exams, deadlines, school cafeteria food, and the lingering feeling that your roommate is selling their prescription anti-depressants out of your dorm room.  Things can get pretty overwhelming for students pretty quickly.  The LA Times shows us just how stressed today's college freshmen are feeling:
In recent studies, college students report they are under more stress than ever — and that anxiety is a main culprit for their academic struggles. Only about half of incoming freshmen reported a high level of emotional health, the lowest rate ever, according to a recent study. The number of students who said they were frequently depressed rose from 6% in 2009 to 9.5%, according to an annual survey of more than 153,000 freshmen by UCLA's Higher Education Research Institute.
Fair enough, I suppose, especially in today's economy.  Not only do students have all of the classic stress faced with just getting through their first year, they also have to face the fact that their future job prospects suck ass, to use the technical term.

So what are colleges doing to help students cope with the extreme stress they're feeling?  Oh, you know, the usual-counseling, peer mentoring, massages.  Wait, what?
 Colleges are attempting to do more to help, though, with stress-reducing activities such as massage therapy and yoga to soothe psyches. Wide-eyed freshmen can usually be relied upon to take advantage of the aid, often more so than upper-division students, many school officials said.
Uh...okay.  Look, I'm going to go for a little stroll down "Back In My Day" lane for a quick second.  I was a college student at one time.  I was stressed as hell, especially during the first year.  One particularly fun example was when I wrote a 30 page paper in about 2 weeks.  You know what I didn't get?  Massages, puppies, yoga, hell safe spaces in general.  It's great that colleges are trying to help out their students instead of just throwing them to the wolves, but I mean come on.  All of these methods are just going to be a band aid to get them through the temporary stress of finals week.  None of it is going to teach these kids long-lasting stress management techniques.

Let's say for argument's sake that these kids head out into the real world and actually get jobs.  New jobs are just as stressful as the first year of college.  More so, in fact, because you have the added pressure of having to work as hard as you can to be able to do things like live in something other than a cardboard box.  That's stressful as hell, especially if your new job happens to take you into a brand new city where you have absolutely no support group.  What's going to happen to these kids when they face termination if they don't meet an important deadline?  They're going to completely crumble if their response to stress has always been a free massage or puppy room provided to them by their school.

Like I said, it's great that colleges are doing more to help their students, but we need to teach them how to effectively deal with their stress.  Yes, colleges absolutely need to have a hand in this.  Put some peer-mentoring programs in place where juniors and seniors can help walk the freshmen through their first year.  Have counselors readily available that are trained in teaching effective stress management techniques.  Hell, do some nightly stress workshops and peer groups.

Really, though, this kind of thing needs to start earlier than the first year of college.  High school is the place that's supposed to prepare kids for college, right?  Let's fucking prepare them.  Have a few classes on managing stress, or even just a class teaching kids just what to expect that first year of college.  Bring in some older college students to talk to the younger kids about how to deal with the stress they're going to face that first year.  We won't have to worry about stressed out students wanting massages if we teach them how to be effective college students before they even get to college.

We owe it to our kids to make this happen.  Let's get them ready for college before they get there; not a week before their first finals.

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