Patterns of Stress for Evergreen Students
Common problems some Evergreen students often face, and some suggested solutions and resources.
- You may be lonely or homesick.
- Many new students struggle with the nontraditional structure at Evergreen.
- The evaluation process can create anxiety and confusion.
- You may have difficulty finding your voice in seminar, or feeling comfortable speaking out…or up.
- International students and students of color may feel particularly lonely and vulnerable.
- By midquarter, your initial enthusiasm and self-discipline may slump.
- Holiday depression may set in--especially for those who have issues involving family or friends.
- Tendencies toward depression and drug and alcohol abuse often become more pronounced as days are darker and nights are longer.
- More time indoors may mean more conflict with roommates, or small problems may intensify.
- What if your winter cold turns into bronchitis?
- You may be confused and overwhelmed at the prospect of "designing your own education" and worried about how your transcript may translate to a prospective employer or graduate school.
- You may be experiencing financial hardship either temporarily or due to ongoing financial stress.
- You may be anxious about going home for the summer.
- You may be wondering whether to stay at Evergreen or be confused about how to get what you need next year.
- Graduation anxiety can create stress in students with no clear-cut plans.
Returning or Older Students
- Special Iissues for returning and/or older students
- Resources for nontraditional students
- Other web sites that may be of interest
To connect with other students, and meet people outside your academic program, try getting involved with one of the Student Activities groups on campus. Check out all of the recreation, intramural sports and club sport activities--they are always looking for people to participate. Or, get involved with a community or volunteer organization--they need your help and it could change your life!
Do you feel like your work is never done? Or do you think you have too much time on your hands? If so, talk to your faculty and/ or an academic advisor. You might benefit from some help in learning time management skills or study strategies; alternatively, you could ask about volunteer or project work you could take on to supplement your in-class academic work.
Talk to your faculty to get clear about their expectations for your coursework. Use the Six Expectations of an Evergreen Graduate as a basis for evaluating your own progress. Check out the Writing Center's workshops on how to create great self-evaluations.
Read, and use, the tips on the Seminar webpage. Be sure to be prepared--read the assignments carefully and ask questions about the material as you read. Bring a few questions to your seminar and ask the group one or two of them. Sometimes asking a question breaks the ice and you may then feel freer to voice your opinion. Speak your mind in a respectful manner, and ask for similar respect, in all classroom situations. Talk with your faculty if you are feeling out of place or underrepresented in the classroom. Seminar should be a comfortable challenge.
Make an appointment to talk to the advisors in First Peoples' Advising Services to get support and discover opportunities for participation in all kinds of great cultural, educational and social activities. Get involved with some of the organizations coordinated by students of color. Be a part of planning and organizing our unique Day of Absence and Day of Presence activities.
Get a study group together with other students from your class and help each other stay on track. Talk to an academic advisor about time management, motivation and concentration. Use your syllabus to draw up a schedule of assignments and activities for the rest of the quarter, starting with due dates and working backwards to make sure you've allowed enough times for all steps. Visit the Writing Center or QuaSR to get help with writing or math/science assignments.
Students may find out at holidays that they "can't go home again"-- that they've changed, and have some difficulty re-connecting with family and friends. Or students may go home, enjoy the closeness with their loved ones, and feel sad about leaving again to return to college. Sometimes it's hard to explain what you're learning and experiencing at Evergreen to people at home who are used to more traditional colleges. Some students do not have a safe home to go to over the holidays. For all students, holidays can be a stressful time. You're welcome to make an appointment or stop in during drop-in hours to see one of the counselors at the Counseling Center. They can help you come up with some coping strategies for the sometimes-stressful holiday season. You can also try volunteering with a local homeless shelter, food bank, or other charitable or community organization to give yourself the gift of giving, helping others less fortunate than yourself, and connecting with your community.
Tendencies toward depression, drug and alcohol abuse often become more pronounced as days are darker and nights are longer.
This is especially true for those with Seasonal Affective Disorder or those who feel isolated or less connected to friends and family. Try some of the sport, yoga, or exercise classes offered at the CRC, or just go for a swim in the early evening instead of going for a drink. Exercise can significantly improve some types of depressive symptoms, you might make some new friends, and the light in the building will be good for you too! Make an appointment at the Counseling Center for individual and group support.
Don't hesitate to go the CARE Network if conflicts with fellow students or other Evergreen community members start to get out of hand. They can help you resolve differences in a mutually satisfactory and positive manner. If you live in on-campus housing, please contact your RA, as there is a mediation system in place in housing as well.
Staying physically healthy will help you be academically successful, and can be as simple as washing your hands often, getting enough sleep and exercise, and eating well. But what if you do get sick? First and foremost, communicate with your faculty! Let them know what's going on and that you will need to miss class. Get in touch with classmates and see if they can share notes with you. Keep up as much as you can with the reading and on-line assignments. If you're actively contagious (coughing/sneezing), resist the temptation to be a hero and go to class anyway--your classmates will thank you. If you are feeling worse than the usual cold/flu, go to the Health Center.
You may be confused and overwhelmed at the prospect of "designing your own education" and worried about how your transcript will translate to a prospective employer or graduate school.
It is never too early to make an appointment to speak with someone in the Career Development Center to sort out your long-term plans and to talk about how to achieve your goals. They can help you with graduate school planning and career exploration and selection, and even provide and interpret some standardized testing to gain insight about your interests and strengths. You should also talk to Academic Advising about your academic plans; they will help you choose programs, courses, and other academic experiences that will meet your educational goals.
The Financial Aid office may be able to help you with your finances, as long as you are still maintaining good academic status. Emergency loans, expanded or amended aid forms, alternative loans, petitions for academic progress…the financial aid counselors and staff are there to help walk you through any or all of these. If you need a part-time job, Career Development can help you prepare a resume and conduct a job search. Student Employment can help you look for student jobs on- and off-campus.
You may wonder if you'll still fit in with your family; you may be "missing friends in advance" and not want to be separated from the relationships you've built at Evergreen. Freshmen in particular may have been living independently from their families for the first time, and now feel unsure of how to express changes in their life and worldview to family and friends. Counselors at the Counseling Center can help you with some strategies for making the transition back to home a bit easier.
You may be wondering whether to stay at Evergreen, or be confused about how to get what you need next year.
Come talk to an advisor in Academic Advising--we're glad to discuss all your academic options and help you decide what will be best for you. If you're planning to be at Evergreen next year, be sure to register for fall during the registration period in March, or at least before you leave for the summer! Talk to your faculty to get their thoughts about programs that will fit your interests or help you develop new areas of skill and knowledge.
Graduate school entrance test results and acceptance letters may be starting to come in with disappointing outcomes, causing feelings of anxiety, inadequacy and possibly depression. Students may be anxious about jobs (or lack of jobs) and ability to finance themselves until the first paycheck. Well before graduation, make an appointment to speak with someone in the Career Development Center to sort out your long term plans and goals. They can help you with grad school and career selection, applications for graduate schools and jobs, help you build your resume and even perform testing to see where your greatest strengths lie. They may also be able to connect you with Evergreen alumni in the professional field you're hoping to enter, who can help you with networking and job-hunting.
- Returning/older students taking evening and weekend courses tend to have fewer problems with feelings of isolation, but may have difficulty relating to their younger classmates. You may be more serious about your education, and may feel as if you don't fit in with the younger students. You may feel you're being placed in a parental role in the classroom. If your opinions are more conservative, you may feel marginalized in the classroom.
- You may experience anxiety about "rusty" academic skills, or insecurity about keeping up academically with younger students.
- Some returning students have experienced recent job loss and are dealing with financial challenges. Students who are employed have to juggle work with school, and may have trouble finding the time to keep up with academic work.
- Childcare issues are important--how to afford extra childcare so mom and/or dad can take classes; what to do when a child is sick or on vacation; making time to help your kids with homework while also doing your own. Child custody and visitation can be major stresses. Balancing the demands of being a student with the responsibilities of being a parent can create conflict and guilt.
- Returning to school can cause stress in marriages/partnerships, from any of the issues listed above to issues of competition and perceived threat of one partner being gone more frequently, doing less at home, perhaps forming new relationships and interests. All this can create guilt, anxiety and stress.
- Students who are veterans, or whose family members are in the military, may have particular stresses, and Evergreen's Office of Veteran Affairs stands ready to help with academic or financial issues. They can also connect with peer counselors who are fellow veterans, and with resources in the larger community.
- The Adult Learner's Guide to College Success, by Laurence N. Smith and Timothy L. Walter
- New Beginnings: A Guide for Adult Learners and Returning Students, by Linda Simon
- How to Go to College (almost) for Free, by Benjamin R. Kaplan
All three of these books address different challenges facing nontraditional students. The first two have a number of worksheets and can easily be turned into workshops.
Web sites that may be of interest: