College students obsessed with success, too stressed to obtain it

Countless studies show that there is currently a mental health epidemic facing college students across the nation.

A survey conducted by the American College Counseling Association, or ACCA, found that more than half of college counseling visitors have save psychological problems, an increase of 13 percent in two years.

Parallel to other national college mental health data, the survey also concluded that anxiety and depression, in that order, are the most common health diagnoses among college students.

According to the Center for Disease Control, suicide is the number 2 leading cause of death among those ages 15-24 and that the suicide rate among adolescents and young adults has increased “modestly but steadily” since 2007.

Over the past two decades, several universities across America have experienced what psychologists refer to as “suicide clusters,” which is defined as multiple deaths in close succession and proximity.

In 2015, Tulane University lost four students to suicide and Appalachian State lost three.

Penn State had six students commit suicide over a 13-month stretch from 2014-2015.

From 2003-2004, 5 New York University (NYU) students leapt to their death. Cornell lost six students to suicide from 2009-2010.

And according to Kelsie Miller, a Counseling Outreach Coordinator for the Students Helping Others Reach Excellence (SHORE) program on Coastal’s Campus who spoke with Chanticleer reporter, Genelle Thompson, CCU has also seen its share of student suicides over the last 5 years.

With a majority of these suicide clusters happening at top-ranked schools, it is easy to speculate that the infamous high-stress, hyper-achieving environment that many ivy-league schools are known for is linked in some way.

Director of Counseling and Psychological Services for the Jed Foundation, a non-profit organization geared towards promoting emotional health and preventing suicide, and the Associate Director of Gannett Health Services at Cornell University Gregory T. Eells told HuffPost Live, that this could be due to something he calls “social perfection.”

Eells explained that because today’s younger generation are so attuned to social media, many feel the need to appear perfect across various platforms, which can potentially be as damaging to the person posting the image as it is to the people engaging with it.

“Social perfection can be a very toxic concept because it’s something that we internalize,” said Eells. “It’s not as if you really think I have to be perfect. It’s that I think that you think I have to be perfect.”

He explained that striving to be perfect causes one to miss out on the chance to improve oneself through recognizing personal imperfections.

“Part of being human is that we all make mistakes,” said Eells. “We really can develop a growth mindset, which is when there are those setbacks, they’re opportunities for growth. They don’t mean you’re a failure, they don’t mean that you’ve done something wrong. They’re an opportunity to learn and develop some sense of resilience and develop some adaptability.”

This feeling of a need to achieve perfection that many college student’s currently face has created a shift in the way young adults handle conflict and cope with challenges.

Counselors at various colleges across the nation have reported noticing this change and have concluded that many college students no longer know how to fail.

Based on an article published in Counseling Today, a publication of the American Counseling Association, helicopter parenting is partly to blame.

This style of parenting describes a parent, or parents, who have a “helicopter-like tendency to hover over children and swoop in to rescue them at the first sign of trouble.” This parenting style ultimately prevents children from developing “independence and resiliency,” thereby hindering them both emotionally and academically, later in life.

A combination of being raised by overprotective parents and being surrounded by culture of hyper-achievement, there is no mystery why mental illness and suicide rates among adolescents and young adults are on a constant incline.

The sad reality is that national data on campus suicide and depression show that one in four adults experience mental illness in a given year, two-thirds of students who are struggling do no seek help or treatment and more teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from all other mental illnesses combined.

Because of the prevalence of these issues among college students, it is important for their peers, as well as faculty and staff, to know the facts, warning signs and how to help.

Coastal’s Counseling Services provide several different outlets to aid with mental illness and suicide prevention, but students must take the first step to get help.

October is suicide prevention month, so be sure to be aware of the facts and keep an eye out for awareness events hosted by COAST, the Counseling Outreach Advocacy Student Team and Counseling Services.

Overcrowding causing growing pains for Coastal Carolina University

As student enrollment and faculty employment continues to climb, overcrowding is becoming a prevalent issue at Coastal.

With multiple construction projects aimed at fixing issue, CCU administration has had to be creative with space allocation.

Many lecturers are losing their offices for the fall semester and are being forced to hold office hours online or elsewhere on campus.

Lecturer of Communication, Dr. Andrea Bergstrom, said that this will be a big change for everyone affected.

“I think it will be a pretty big adjustment for students and faculty,” said Bergstrom. “Lecturers carry a large course load and in any given semester one might have 150 students. Those students are now not going to have the same access to faculty. Since there are 6 lecturers in comm and each have around 150 students a piece, there are a lot of students that are going to have less access to this particular group of faculty, which I am a part of.”

Due to the lack of space, lecturers are having to move office hours online or by appointment only.

Bergstrom said that this could shift the relationship between students and faculty.

“We’re going to have online office hours but it really impacts the student/faculty relationship,” said Bergstrom. “The type of conversations and interactions we have via g-chat versus a face-to-face office setting are very limited. Some topics really require a face-to-face interaction.”

While some feel that students and faculty will be negatively affected, Associate Professor of Communication and incoming chair of the department, Dr. Wes Fondren, said he thinks it could be a positive situation.

“I think this, in some ways, might help student retention,” said Fondren. “Faculty members will end up being more available online and if you think about how most students want to meet with the faculty members, they want someone they can chat with or can logon to the Moodle forum or they can email. Faculty will also have office hours in the library, dorms, or other areas on campus. As odd as it might sound, one of the surprise effects might be that the faculty members end up being where students are at more, rather than them having to come to us.”

Offices are not the only thing being impacted by the lack of space.

Some classes are being held in the library, student union and even in the dorms.

Fondren said that these locations offer a unique classroom experience.

“I have been extremely impressed with how the university has tackled this problem,” said Fondren. “I teach a class in the movie theatre and it’s a super cool room. I’m able to show movie clips and have great sound, which you wouldn’t have in a normal classroom.”

Because of the immediate need for space, even Coastal’s administration has to make sacrifices.

According to Fondren, the Dean of the Edwards, Daniel Ennis is doing all that he can to help the issue with space.

“Even the dean had a temporary wall put up in his office to cut it in half so that he could share his office with someone else,” said Fondren. “Even from the top-down, his willingness to do something unusual for a while to get through this is very encouraging.”

Although inconvenient for some, the overcrowding is temporary.

The current projects geared at helping with the lack of space are estimated to be completed in the next year.

Construction of Britain II and a $7 million renovation to the Smith Science Building are set to be finished in the summer of 2017, while the Science annex is predicted to be completed by the end of May 2016.

While Coastal may be experiencing “growing pains,” data from the National Student Clearinghouse in 2015 showed overall college enrollment in a decline.

The study found that enrollment at postsecondary institutions had decreased by 1.7% from the previous year.

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Bergstrom said that she has experienced the decline first hand.

“Having worked previously at a university that had major retention issues and a declining student body, we had a lot of space but not the students to fill them,” said Bergstrom. “I think that it is a good problem to have as far as problems go. It means that the school is growing and is high demand and that is obviously good for our university and for our majors.”

Fondren also stressed that, although it may be uncomfortable, growth is a good problem to have.

“I have friends at other schools where their problem is that they have empty classrooms and their universities aren’t growing,” said Fondren. “We’re seeing a lot of universities get smaller but what is happening here for us is that we are experiencing the painful positive of growth, like when a kid’s shoes are too tight. In a weird sort of way, this is exciting. The problems that we have are the problems that you want to look for in a school.”