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Another lonely college student

2

Replies to: Another lonely college student

  • leafconeybearismartleafconeybearismart 102 replies30 threads Junior Member
    @Publisher @Sally_Rubenstone I feel like a failure everytime I think about transferring. I transferred grade schools because I had no friends, and I almost switched high schools because it was just a really bad school. I don't want to give up and start all over again when everyone else has friends.
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  • Sally_RubenstoneSally_Rubenstone CC Admissions Expert 3160 replies1118 threads CC Admissions Expert
    edited November 2018
    @leafconeybearismart -Twenty-five years ago I co-authored a book called The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges. The first paragraph talks about the large numbers of students who decide to transfer, assuring them that they're not alone. And in the third paragraph, it says:

    ... it's important to recognize that transferring isn't quitting, it's moving. It isn't failing, it's changing.

    It's still very early in your freshman year, even if it doesn't feel that way to you. So, as I said above, you'd be wise to start investigating transfer schools where you can participate more fully in theater, but without giving up on your current school. (If you don't know where to begin with your transfer-school "research," start with the Colleges That Change Lives website: https://ctcl.org/ )

    As I also suggested before, many college students pursue transfer possibilities while, at the same time, they try to stay focused and engaged in academics and extracurriulars at their initial school. It can take months to make friends. Some students, in fact, get through all of freshman year without feeling fully connected to anyone at their college (or to the institution itself). But then they return as sophomores and find that they're in a whole new place ... not literally, of course, but figuratively. It's probably due to feeling more comfortable and less foreign the second time around (no more hunts for the laundry room!) but maybe it's due to different expectations as well.

    We often hear about "sophomore slump," but--for some students in my orbit--it's quite the opposite. No longer being the new kid on campus can actually be energizing.

    So don't give up on your school ... or, especially, on yourself! But do take steps to see what else may be out there for you, so you'll have options if your situation doesn't seem to improve.

    edited November 2018
    Post edited by Sally_Rubenstone on
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  • PublisherPublisher 10350 replies130 threads Senior Member
    edited November 2018
    OP: If you do not want to consider transferring, then you need to treat your depression. Your initial post in this thread shares that you are involved in multiple activities including two jobs, editor of school newspaper, clubs & study groups.

    Since I have no medical qualifications, all I can suggest is that you engage in daily exercise & try to get some sunshine. Many suffer from SAD seasonal affective disorder (I think). Means that you need lots of sunlight to feel good.

    Have you ever been to Florida or to a sunny climate ? If so, did it help ? Daily exercise results in a healthy release of endorphins (nature's happy juice) & can make a very significant difference in one's mood. And, no matter what, think positive thoughts. Do not focus on negatives.

    If your school has an exchange program, consider participating.
    edited November 2018
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  • happy1happy1 23553 replies2335 threads Senior Member
    I do agree that transferring can be a good thing in certain situations. I transferred after my freshman year and it was the best move I ever made. I transferred to a school that was much better in my area of study to a school that was previously unaffordable (family circumstances changed enough to make it affordable).

    Looking back, there is no doubt in my mind that I made the right decision. I definitely did not view the transfer as a failure -- rather it was a change for the better for me.

    HOWEVER, transferring is not easy. Here are some challenges I faced in a transfer.

    --A ton of strong friendships are made freshman year when everyone is looking for new friends. I had the best of circumstances when I transferred (I was randomly placed into a suite that had an unexpected opening as someone didn't return for sophomore year and my suitemates and I hit it off very well and became good friends). They also had a short transfer student orientation where I met someone in my major who ended up being a close friend. I met other friends along the way -- through classes, clubs etc. I did find enough friends at my new college but I always felt my social circle would have been bigger (and less dependent on my suitemates and their friends) had I started there as a freshman.

    --It can be a bit awkward to be learning the ropes when the vast majority of your peers are settled into routines at the school. That goes away after a little while but being the only one walking into the first day of a class holding a campus map, being uncertain of the ins and outs of scheduling, drop-add etc. when most everyone else was already in a routine was hard for me at first.

    --Academically I had a hiccup because an intro class I took at my first college did not prepare me adequately for an upper level class at the new school (it was a prerequisite class they gave me credit for). I got through it but it was stressful, time consuming etc. I also lost a class or two of credit as the new school did not accept all of the classes from my first school.

    --Financially many people find they don't get the same level of merit aid as a transfer student. This may make a similar school unaffordable.

    That said, I would make the same move 100 times out of 100. But it is important to know that a transfer is not always easy. If the OP pursues that route I would do everything possible to feel confident that it will be a good move -- visit the campus, be sure they have things you want there in terms of ECs and social life, be sure the academics are at least equal to your current school, be sure it is affordable, find out where transfers students get housed, ask if they have any orientation programs for transfer students and how they get immersed into campus life.etc. In short to the extent possible, make an educated and informed choice if you pursue that route.
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  • CupCakeMuffinsCupCakeMuffins 1114 replies107 threads Senior Member
    edited November 2018
    As @Publisher mentioned, semester abroad is a fantastic idea if social factor is the only reason for you to consider transferring. You’ll get a new scenery, new people and more importantly, you’ll grow as a person with your new experiences. When you’ll come back, it’s going to be a different world here as well.
    edited November 2018
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  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 7457 replies76 threads Senior Member
    OP, re-read this thread. From the outset you have drawn an absolute box: 'I have tried every single thing there is and there is *no* way for me to be happy. I can't change anything. I can't leave b/c that is "failure". I can't do the things I want to b/c of x external factors. I have a history of unhappiness and there is no way out'.

    That is simply factually not true for you at this stage- but it does require you to take some steps.

    1. Deal with the depression. If the counselor's actual advice for somebody with a history of depression who is reporting feeling hopeless and depressed is 'wait it out' go see a different counselor. But: if it's that you just said 'I'm feeling lonely and don't have any friends yet and everybody else does', go back and be more forthcoming: "I am feeling hopeless and depressed and isolated and as if there is no hope for anything to ever be better"

    2. Deal with your housing: your college has a variety of living environments, and typically there is some room movement during the first term, as students work out what is ok for them. ResLife at your college has a stated commitment to getting it right for the students. That doesn't mean that it is easy to just walk in and everything is magically fixed, but it does mean that there is a system and a commitment to making sure that students are in "safe and supportive living communities where students can engage with others, explore their personal identity, and develop a deeper understanding of their impact on the world." (their quote). Re-examine the housing options. Again, you are likely to have to advocate for yourself: ime the first response of ResLife offices is to say 'give it a little time'. Now that you know more about the school / housing options, work out a couple of options that you think might work better for you, such as the wellness LC. Have a few ideas ready, and work with the ResLife to figure out a way to change.

    3. Dump the Quidditch team. What is the point of being on a team where the people aren't nice to you, and you feel like a failure? It's fine to be new & inept - if you are having fun- but you obviously aren't, and you are missing the whole point of the advice to join a team. Ditto for any other suggestions that you say aren't working for you.

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  • CupCakeMuffinsCupCakeMuffins 1114 replies107 threads Senior Member
    edited November 2018
    OP, As a parent of kids your age, your post was tugging at my heart so I looked at your other posts to see what could be the reason for your unhappiness. In your other posts, you did mention getting low grades, worrying about admissions, seeing a therapist for anxiety and not loving your high school.

    If this is the case, ask student health center, your doctor or your parents for recommending a good professional therapist.

    I noticed that you love theater, had good time doing theater and wanted to go to some college near Broadway in NY. You also mentioned your love of theater in current thread.

    If this is the case, take a theater course, audition for a play, make contacts in theater department. Don’t rush to go to NY, you can go there for internship, graduate school or work.

    I noticed you didn’t do great academically in high school and failing a required science course now as college freshman as well.

    If that is the case, focus on studies, go to office hours, talk to academic advisor and professor.


    If your family and therapist see a need for and benefit in changing dorm, major, school or town then do that. Quit your sport if you hate it. Making a change isn’t always a failure, it can be realization of what doesn’t work and switching to something more likely to work well. However, one should always make sure there aren’t any better solutions to fix what you have as grass may not be as green on other side as we assume.

    Life is complicated and teen years/high school/college are even more complicated. There is no problem if you have someproblems as long as you work to find solutions. There is a solution for every problem so don’t worry and keep working on looking for ways to improve things. Sometimes it takes longer than our expectations. You’ll be fine. Stay relaxed and reach out to resources available to you through your family, doctors and school.
    edited November 2018
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  • flipmomflipmom 8 replies1 threads New Member
    My heart goes out to you as I've read this thread. I experienced the same thing in college. I think everyone experiences it. In fact, I heard at a medical conference that I attended recently (I'm a physician) that there is an epidemic of loneliness in this country. Our coping includes getting busier, finding another place to live,partying ...basically distracting ourselves from that hollow feeling. Sometimes that helps, sometimes not.

    It became a comfort for me to realize that-that I wasn't alone in feeling it. And I learned with time the idea of self care. If you are prone to depression, it's important to get back to basics. Sleep at least 8 hours a night,eat nourishing foods (look up Julia Ross's book The Mood Cure), get exercise (just walking for 30 min a day can help or join an aerobics or dance class). Get some sunlight daily, and if youre not in a sunny area, invest in a full spectrum light to keep on your desk.
    Take the advice of above and intentionally practice your social skills. Smile! Even when you don't feel like it, the action positvely imprints on your brain.j Defintely get away from any activity that negatively impacts you ie your quidditch team

    Meditation can definitely help. Seek out a Buddhist or meditation group. It can be a refuge from all the swirling thoughts and rumination. You will find that these dark clouds will pass. Hugs.
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  • leafconeybearismartleafconeybearismart 102 replies30 threads Junior Member
    Thanks for all the kind words everyone. I've struggled with depression since grade school but I've always been able to handle it until now, but I'm taking my meds and hoping for the best. I'm trying my best to take all of your advice (eating good, excersizing) but it's really hard because the dining halls don't really offer any healthy foods and I'm already working 2 jobs to keep up with tuition. I find myself not exersising when I know I should be, but I still walk to and from class so that at least gets me out of my dorm (my anxiety won't let me ever skip class). I guess things are kind of getting better, but I suppose all I can do is wait.
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  • RandyErikaRandyErika 475 replies5 threads Member
    A couple of points that may or may not be helpful. One, while the feelings of the OP are not uncommon, they are certainly not experienced by all students. Suggesting that essentially diminishes the OPs very real concerns, and I don’t think that is helpful. I do agree that many students are lonely during their first year, whether it’s an unfortunate matter of circumstances or an inability to connect with others. The former is much easier to overcome, but either can be difficult to get past.

    Another point that I’ve noticed which others may agree or disagree with. Unfortunately pretty much every student is concerned almost entirely with themselves. The extroverted kids aren’t going out of their way to reach out to others who might need a friend, and the introverted kids don’t seem to be looking out for their own if/when they find themselves in a decent situation. Obviously there are exceptions, but I really wish things were different. Unfortunately that mentality looks a lot like an extension of high school, and I wish we were all a bit more selfless.

    The bottom line is that the OP needs to put themself in an environment that is most likely to result in the kind of mutually satisfying interactions being sought. Whether that entails switching dorms, quitting Quittich, or transferring to a new school is something for the student and the parents, perhaps with some help from a counselor, to decide.
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  • JayeaCJayeaC 2 replies1 threads New Member
    I feel the same way. I'm a junior in my four year university however I've felt this way even when in community college. People can be very clique-y and not open to talking to others for whatever the reason. In my major, as I am into dietetics, I already feel behind my peers since I still have yet to take certain courses that they already have taken. So even if I want to talk to them about certain things I get the vibe that they're not interested because they're so advanced. I've always been much of a loner...although not by choice lol. So I hope that things improve for me especially as i get involved in new classes and I hope to soon join clubs. But hang in there, you're not the only one going through this and hopefully things get better for us and all others :)
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  • orionaryorionary 346 replies46 threads Member
    Same goes for me. I skipped out on clubs and social events at my high school entirely (mainly b/c I didn't like my h.s environment). So, in the end my social circle was little to none. Currently a freshman in college, I am trying to find new friends, however, it seems to be very hard as people have already established their own circle of friends they'd rather be around with more than a random stranger they just met.

    If you're able to follow them on instagram or snapchat or even facebook, you can possibly gain more interaction with them through there, but in real life, it seems pretty unfair that our generation can easily "accept" newcomers, but in the end block them out when it comes to their own OG social circle.

    Unlike you, I am EXTREMELY introverted (maybe b/c my parents, environment, and my own impairments) caused me to be this way, and changing from introvert to extrovert seems possible, yet hard, but it is likely to give anything a worth trying to have better connections with people. (That one special connection with one person can extend your social circle i.e. he/she invites you to their party or whatever).

    Luck does play a role too, sadly.

    I wish all of us the best of finding our special people in our lives.
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  • LANYLALANYLA 32 replies0 threads Junior Member
    Excellent thoughts here and I certainly empathize. I attended huge State football schools where the Greek system was all. As an introvert, the experience was soul crushing. I knew my roommate and my boyfriend. 2 people out of 30K. High school hadn’t been much better. My husband and I have been fortunate, and our D has attended small private schools most of her life and now she’s headed to Barnard. I think introverts are much more successful at small schools with strong communal ties, and introverts are drawn to small schools. Perhaps you are more like;y to find your tribe there. Other schools we targeted were Reed, Sarah Lawrence and PItzer. These are co-ed schools with very diverse, creative populations. Also small, passionate and tight knit. Sarah Lawrence has a BIG theater department! Persistence is the key:) You’re doing better than you think, too.
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  • PicapolePicapole 432 replies4 threads Member
    So it's unclear to me where you go to school--probably intentional. This first idea really depends on your community, but as to the theater aspect, yes, I would ask the professor. And if he/she will not let you participate, look into community theater near your campus.

    Another thought: Unless you are actively opposed to religion, consider that many campus ministry groups will offer social events that are not religious services. They will publish and state that they are welcome to any students on campus. For example, a couple of campus ministry groups at my student's school had a Thanksgiving dinner open to all students. There are certain denominations that are into proselytizing hard, so be cognizant of that possibility. In my experience, the Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian and Jewish ones are not. They will be happy that you are their guest.

    When it comes to depression, please get a physical exam. If you don't have a lot of money, see if there is a campus clinic. There are actual biological reasons for depression, and those should be ruled out. One biological cause is low thyroid, which can be determined by a blood test. I recently read that 12 percent of women in America have thyroid issues. And, again this is just one possibility--there are others and I am not a doctor.

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  • leafconeybearismartleafconeybearismart 102 replies30 threads Junior Member
    edited December 2018
    @picapole

    In terms of religion, I've joined a Jesuit volunteer program (despite not being Christian) in hopes of making new friends. The program promises that you will make life long friends and such as we are travelling out of the country for a week to do service but while I'm cordial with the others, none of us have really connected.
    edited December 2018
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  • TorqueDorkTorqueDork 21 replies1 threads Junior Member
    Honestly, as someone wrapping up undergrad (3 more semesters) at my state flagship, I pretty much empathize with a lack of belonging and feelings of isolation. I’m a 4.0 student, president of a few clubs, volunteered, published research, and pretty much look like I have everything a college kid could dream of. The suggestions the others have given are all great and I highly recommend all of them. For me, I have this sense of acquaintances with a few people, and I speak when needed to finish tasks, but other than that, I feel disconnected from everyone. It’s as if I’m friends with everyone, because I’m so involved, but friends with no one, because I’ve yet to bond. Try your level best OP, but as I always say, why should these necessarily be the best four years? You still have time to grow and hopefully fill the void with just 16 hr days so you can immunize yourself from loneliness.
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  • compSciLovercompSciLover 121 replies8 threads Junior Member
    One thing I have found that works is asking people if they want to study together. This gives us a common topic to talk about so it's not awkward.
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