By: Olivia Boyd
St. Bonaventure, N.Y. – Looking out on to the Reilly Center pool in the Student Veterans Lounge, senior Alyssa Magnuson laughed about how she’s changed majors three times.
“I was a biology major but then I failed biology and calculus and I joined Army ROTC and it was all a lot,” said Magnuson. “I switched to education, which has a rigorous track with everything and doing it late would have been impossible. I want to be a teacher, so I switched again to childhood studies because you still get to learn the same material.”
Many students, including Magnuson, said that balancing school and deciding what you want to do with it can be stressful. To cope, many students participate in activities, religion and time management.
“School has 100 percent affected my mental health since beginning college because of the course work. I never really had a problem with managing stress in high school,” said junior Kasey Tokos. “I was able to study for only an hour in high school and now I struggle with just taking a breath and trying to destress.”
Like other college students, Tokos said she struggles to balance school, work, sports, and social activities.
“I am more stressed out than I used to be,” said graduate student Carlie Jacque. “I also stress about the little things a lot more now because I balance graduate school and a job. I get overwhelmed when I think about school sometimes.”
Being a graduate student, Jacque said the work she undertakes has been geared toward her future job, so she believes the stress can be worth it. In the end she does not mind the amount of work.
“School has had a roller coaster affect with my mental health. I am not one to usually stress about stuff, but school has changed that completely for me. I have had my mental breakdowns and panic attacks which is very much out of character for me,” said sophomore Kelly DeGrood.
To manage her panic from school, Degrood goes home, finds an activity to calm her down or practices rugby. She tries to surround herself with people who have similar interests and passions to her own.
Many students on campus said they cope with the stresses they experience from school by participating in extracurricular activities or talking with friends.
“I go to church on Sundays,” said senior Jazmine Clasing. “I make a priority of that. I go to Believers Chapel in Allegany off campus.”
Many Bonaventure students take comfort in religion. Clasing said she believed faith aided her in taking some of the burden of stress off herself because she doesn’t feel alone.
Senior Sara Goodwin, who did not disclose her GPA, said, “Mental health is everything you can’t see or measure. It’s all internal and at the end of the day you’re the one that knows yourself the best.”
Goodwin, like Degrood, said that school can be a roller coaster. However, she has been able to time manage and not get overwhelmed by breaking assignments and responsibilities into smaller pieces and completing at least one task each day.
Freshman Malaunah Jones said she believed students come in with mental health issues but also develop them while at school from being overwhelmed.
“School throws you in a new situation like, here’s a new life and you have to do your best and sometimes your best isn’t enough, because you have to find out for yourself what you want and are held to certain expectations,” said Jones, a biology major.
“Some of the ways that school can affect mental health is experiencing lower self-esteem, self-doubt, and activation of latent mental health issues or problems in the past,” said Amy Mickle, a Bonaventure counselor.
Mickle said, “Old coping mechanisms may not work as previously in the student’s life causing an increase in anxiety, depressive conditions and symptoms like poor sleep, change in eating habits, poor concentration, isolation, and procrastination.”
Bonaventure has many resources for students to use such as counseling services, a student gym, a grief recovery group, a school-provided ministry services, an LGBTQ+ club, and alcohol anonymous meetings.
“I would say Bonaventure helps my mental health,” said senior Erin Brockenton. “After I lost my mom, school has been made easy because of my friends, professors and teammates helping me. It’s not a burden to be back at school. I use the counseling services from the wellness center.”
The wellness center counseling sessions last from 45 minutes to an hour. Primarily psychotherapy, students can speak with counselors, go through books or worksheets or video clips.
Students begin to learn time management skills to not become submerged in stress. Magnuson, whose GPA changed from a 2.1 in freshman year to a 3.3 currently, learned to time manage and destress through exercise with ROTC and playing rugby.