FIU professors give tips on adjusting to college life

Victoria Abella/Contributing Writer

The cars are stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the Palmetto. People are struggling to find a parking spot in the Gold Garage. Students are hastily running around campus trying to figure out the fastest route to their new set of classes. Welcome back to school.

On the week of Aug. 20, the fall semester at FIU began. The university’s Instagram account featured students celebrating the first week of school, including pictures of Cirque du SPC, a carnival-themed event hosted by the Student Programming Council, and selfies of friends reuniting.

But not all students have had a positive reaction to the school year. Students can face struggles such as adjusting to their new academic venture, anxiety or depression. Furthermore, curriculum is an important factor in shaping a student’s outlook on their college career.

James P. Burns, assistant professor in curriculum and instruction, reminds students of the importance of academia as they dive into their new courses. After teaching elementary and high school in Hawaii and Washington D.C., respectively, he saw that the education that students were receiving was partial.

“For me, education, no matter the level, should be about being exposed to ideas and concepts that don’t simply affirm what you think you know. What we should be doing in higher education especially is helping students (and ourselves as scholars) become open to the possibility of being wrong,” said Burns in an email to PantherNOW.

As students start a new semester, he advises students to ask questions and read critically. This is how students can gain more knowledge and make the most out of college, as reading and writing are important.

While getting brain power pumping in new courses, it’s also important to stay mentally healthy.

“It is very common for people to experience feelings of nervousness and worry at the beginning of a new school year,” said Jeremy Pettit, professor and interim chair of the Department of Psychology. [In] most instances, the nervousness and worries pass after a few days, as students settle into routines and develop a better understand[ing] of the demands placed on them. In some instances, however, the anxiety persists and interferes with students’ abilities to complete schoolwork or maintain social relationships.”

The words “anxiety” and “depressed” have become so common in people’s vocabulary that sometimes the meaning gets lost. These are serious mental health problems though, and according to Pettit, they are among the top 10 leading causes of disability worldwide.

Students should always remember to prioritize their academics and their health. Back to school season could come as a shock, especially to freshman who are not used to the level of autonomy they inherit when entering college.

FIU is here to ease a student’s college experience. Student Affairs offers free online self-help for anxiety and depression, and Counseling and Psychological Services provides consultations and mental health services.

“Stay socially connected,” said Pettit. “Dive into life at FIU. Get connected with people through clubs, organizations, intramurals, and so on. Stay on top of your courses and soak up the knowledge that our outstanding faculty have to offer.”

Photo courtesy of Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash.

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