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What to Do When College Is Not the Best Time of Your Life

What to Do When College Is Not the Best Time of Your Life

David Leibow
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    What to Do When College Is Not the Best Time of Your Life
    Book Description:

    If college is supposed to be the best time of our lives, why are so many students unhappy? What causes a well-adjusted and academically successful high school graduate to suddenly flounder when he reaches college? Why might she start to skip classes, binge on alcohol, or engage in unsatisfying hook-ups? Where does the anger and self-doubt come from, and why is it directed at loving parents or the student himself? Drawing on years of experience treating college-age youth, David Leibow, M.D. provides fresh, honest, and realistic answers to these and other important questions.

    Instead of adventure, liberation, and a triumphant march into adulthood, many college students experience shame, regression, and social and academic failure. Yet by understanding themselves better and making reasonable changes, students can grow from these challenges and turn bad choices into wiser personal and educational decisions. Leibow focuses on issues common to college settings-anxiety and depression, drug and alcohol abuse, laziness and work avoidance, body-image problems, and unhealthy relationships-detailing coping strategies and professional resources that best respond to each crisis. His intimate knowledge of campus life and its unique challenges adds credibility and weight to his advice. Reorienting the expectations of parents and students while providing the tools for overcoming a variety of hurdles, Leibow shows how college can still become one of the best times of our lives.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-52538-1
    Subjects: Health Sciences, Sociology, Psychology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. QUESTIONNAIRE: Is What to Do When College Is Not The Best Time of Your Life for You?
    (pp. ix-xvi)
  4. College: “The Best Time of Your Life?”
    (pp. 1-4)

    Why am I sitting motionless in front of my laptop, unable to find an opening sentence for a paper that was due yesterday, while my roommate is hitting the “send” button on a paper that’s not even due until tomorrow? Why am I holed up in my tiny room on a Saturday night—eating air-popped popcorn and watching bad movies—while most of the kids on my floor are out at frat parties having fun? Why are my friends able to sing in a capella groups, write for the student newspaper, tutor local school kids, or do research, while I...

  5. Homesickness
    (pp. 5-16)

    Two of the glorious things about college are 1. the opportunity to acquire life-changing knowledge from experts who’ve spent their careers studying their subjects and 2. the chance to move away from home and live with people your own age. Two of the biggest adjustments required by college are 1. trying to succeed academically in a rigorous environment and 2. trying to separate from your parents and high school friends and make a home for yourself at school.

    In the next chapter, I will discuss how easy it is to run aground academically. In this chapter, I want to discuss...

  6. Academic Problems
    (pp. 17-64)

    You’re walking down a corridor to a classroom where you’re about to take an exam. The corridor is filled with unfamiliar students waiting to be let into the exam room. They’re poring over their notebooks.

    You enter the exam room and take your seat. A teaching assistant hands out the tests and exam books and chalks the start and stop times on the blackboard. All around you students are furiously writing. Except for the scraping of chairs and the scratch of pens, the room is hushed.

    You strain to decipher the exam, but the words remain indistinct, as if you...

  7. Friendship
    (pp. 65-88)

    If you’re doing well academically, don’t have other major problems, and have a few good friends, college will be pretty good. If you have a few people who like you and are on a similar wavelength, you’ll be able to withstand homesickness, romantic disappointments, harsh winters, remote geography, a crummy dorm, maybe even a mismatch with your school. If you don’t have friends, college will be tough.

    The opportunities for meeting people in college are many and varied. They include orientation events, roommates, dorms, cafeterias, football games, sororities, fraternities, outing and other clubs, concerts, and collegewide events like homecoming. Most...

  8. Sex and Love
    (pp. 89-106)

    College is a hotbed of sexual activity: True or False?

    Answer: False.

    The American College Health Association—National College Health Assessment of 80,121 university students finds that 29.9 percent had no sexual partners during the prior year and 46.4 percent had only one. Hardly the orgy depicted in Girls Gone Wild. Though it should be noted that 10 percent of men and 6 percent of women claim to have had four or more sexual partners!¹

    Still, that’s not the perception. According to the same report, although 34.2 percent of students reported having had vaginal intercourse one or more times in...

  9. Depression and Suicide
    (pp. 107-122)

    Although doing poorly academically is the biggest reason college students come to see me, it’s not the problem they usually present with. The problem they usually present with is depression.

    Jody, a twenty-one year old who came to see me during her Christmas break, is typical. Because of a dropped semester, she was half way between her junior and senior years.

    “I’ve been in treatment for anxiety and depression for five years,” she announced. “But the symptons never seems to go away.”

    “My bad mood is causing me trouble at school because all I want to do is sleep. I...

  10. Anxiety and Insomnia
    (pp. 123-140)

    There is no bright line between anxiety and depression. Depression is often accompanied by anxiety, and anxiety can evolve into depression.

    Anxiety, like depression, can be a signal that something is wrong. Anxiety that is short-lived, manageable, and appropriate is the mind’s way of alerting you to an imminent danger. Anxiety that is persistent, hard to cope with, unwarranted by the degree of peril, and unrelieved by improved circumstances may be evidence of an anxiety disorder. In anxiety disorders, the symptoms of anxiety are either too great in absolute terms or out of proportion to the imminent danger in relative...

  11. Drugs and Alcohol
    (pp. 141-146)

    College students are using drugs more than in the past; college drug use is declining. Alcohol abuse is rampant on college campuses; the alcohol problem in college is less than commonly assumed. Alcohol has become the drug of choice for college students; prescription drug use is increasing. Every new study on substance use and abuse among college students says something a little different, sometimes even contradictory. Suffice it to say: substance abuse in general, and alcohol abuse in particular, is a problem on college campuses.

    Substance abuse comes in two flavors: addiction and bingeing. Addiction receives more attention because it’s...

  12. Body Image, Eating Disorders and Self-harm
    (pp. 147-158)

    We live in a tyranny. It is a tyranny enforced by strict codes of behavior, unrelenting propaganda in the media, and insidious peer pressure. It is a tyranny built on a single totalitarian idea so all encompassing and seductive that even those who know better have trouble resisting it. The pernicious idea on which this tyranny is based is that thinness equals beauty. We are indoctrinated in this totalitarian equation at every waking moment of our lives, from childhood through old age, not by the government but by ourselves. It infects family life, school life, work life, friendship, and, of...

  13. Final Thoughts
    (pp. 159-182)

    Shame is the single biggest impediment to dealing with problems. Shame leads to avoidance. Shame leads to exaggeration of the problem in your own mind.

    So let’s deal with shame first.

    Everyone confronts psychological problems sometime during his life. Nobody is exempt. Wealth, beauty, intelligence, a happy childhood, a good education, good parenting, good values, and good genes: none of these things can absolutely protect you against psychological problems. If you’ve been lucky up till now—congratulations. If you’re having a problem for the first time—welcome.

    The only reason you feel ashamed about having psychological problems is because you...

  14. For Parents
    (pp. 183-200)

    As a psychiatrist and parent, I categorically reject the idea that, when your child turns eighteen, you, the parents, have completed your job (presumably badly!) and been rendered obsolete. I reject the idea that, despite their legal majority and rights, most eighteen or twenty-two year olds are fully fledged and ready to fly completely on their own. I reject the idea that your college-aged children no longer have anything to gain from your wisdom and experience. I especially reject the idea that the small army of experts you’ll have to contend with when your kid has a problem (including not...

    (pp. 201-202)
  16. Index
    (pp. 203-208)