Friday, March 30, 2012

Loneliness: The Silent Stalker of College Students

Photo by Scott Meltzer
Have you ever felt lonely?  This matters to this topic, because loneliness is one of the major factors for people dropping out.  Just as we are created for a relationship with God, we are also created for relationships with other people (Genesis 2:18). If you have difficulty fitting in where you go to school, it will make doing school difficult.  If you were to place the schedule of a young adult alongside an older adult you would notice differences. 

The one area young people devote more time is in socializing with friends.  As you get older, this tends to fade as other responsibilities increase.  This is ok because young adults have a greater need to figure out who they are apart from their families, so friends fill this role.   It is common for people to have high school friendships that extend back to very early years.  These friendships have always just been there.  Army brats tend to do very well in making friends because they are used to moving constantly, but if you never had to go make new friends it can be challenging.  

In college, it is rare to see people you know and friends who go to the same college may find it difficult to meet up if their schedules do not match.  All of this leads to a lot of loneliness. Do not neglect yourself in this phase of life; you need to be connected to people.  I would encourage you to plug into your local church to establish a bond with like minded people. 
You can make friends at school also, and fortunately there are two needs that can be met at the same time.  Group study counts as social time.  I repeat, group study time counts as social time.  If you do this you will find yourself feeling much better.  The task is to find group members who work hard and are also enjoyable to be with.  Here’s a tip:  Control the process of membership at the outset.  Schedule a study room on days that would work for you.

On the first day of class, you show up having read the text prior to the first lecture.  You will have created your Cornell Note with facts and preliminary “high level” questions about things that didn’t make sense. As the lecture proceeds take your notes, ask your questions and watch the others and note who is taking notes, asking goods questions and seems like they may be a good group member.    As the class ends, move in and introduce yourself, “Hi I’m Mike, this looks like a tough class.  You seem like a hard worker, I have reserved a study room in the library would you like to join us?  We will meet in room 14 Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2:30-3:30.  We need to make sure we get a lot done and we can’t mess around, so go over your notes before we meet and write down questions for things you think will be on the exam.  Whatever we can’t figure out I’ll go ask the professor during her office hours.”   

Did you catch what was going on?  You have set the tone for a successful group and established the group norms.  You have just helped this person and yourself.  Shoot for 4-6 people because a small group of hard working students usually has perfect knowledge, but if the fact is important and the group can’t figure it out, you have a perfect question to bring to a professor.  Next Time: Office Hours