College introduces students to a developmental era of their lives which will determine their academic/intellectual, social, emotional and physical skills throughout their lives. It is a period where the students develop and understand their own identity void of their family or peers dependence (“College Student Development,” n.d.). This transition to higher education incorporates many challenges and stress and presents two situations for students, to take it as a challenge to individual growth or to be overwhelmed by the changes and could be emotionally maladjusted or depresses. Adjustment and development issues are vital for college success and therefore persistently calls for attention from students, parents and campus professionals.
College presents an environment for exposure to diverse ideas, persons, and new experience. A student often feels anxious, fearful, confused, a sense of imbalance or insecure. The struggles to fit in could be from psychological histories including; difficulties in coping with family separations, management of time and stress, deciphering the study techniques, setting goals, the establishment of relationships, emotion handling processes, and matters to do with self-esteem (E & E, n.d.). Others may include parent’s alcoholism and drug abuse, physical or sexual assaults and sometimes deaths.
Once in college, students may be faced with other psychological, emotional and academic challenges such as rejection from peers, confusion about careers, identity discovery, stressful relationships, unplanned pregnancies and abortions, lack of sleep, fear of failure, poor concentration, mental illnesses, anger, and lack of appetite, feeling of insecurity or anxiety (“College Student Development,” n.d.). There could also be spiritual challenges like choosing the right religious group or a need to change religion. It is therefore inherent upon all stakeholders to come together to seek a way forward to enable college students to lead a healthy social and academic life to meet their expectations and those of the society (“The Spiritual Lives of Christian College Students,” n.d.).
The current dynamic nature of families in the United States has presented unstable and emotional upheavals in family environments void of care, security or nurturing. Students from such families enroll in college often experience stress and apprehension (E & E, n.d.). It, therefore, is imperative for college to be cognizant of familial separation and traumatic impacts on students and come up with necessary support programs to help them cope with background situations and succeed in their college lives.
Recent studies show that college students are prone to depression as compared to adults of the same ages working in different areas. Students under depression are characterized by a shift in appetite and weight, sleep patterns change and decrease in energy, guilty conscience, thinking difficulties, lack of concentration, decision-making problems, and regular suicidal thoughts. They may also lose interest in studies and withdraw from a company. Depression has had an undisputed effect on college students both socially and individually. Colleges should, therefore, establish counseling and mental health centers and student health facilities to cope with the effects of depression (E & E, n.d.). Requisite steps between students groups should also be implemented to identify and help students grappling with depression.
There has been a rising trend in the number of college students affected by mental illness owing to the set of experiences, personal and psychological problems. Students could have joined the college with issues relating to learning, lack of attention, and disruptive behaviors diagnosed in infancy state, childhood or at puberty. If a dual diagnosis happens, the social and academic integration of the student is bogged. However, early detections can enable treatment or proper management (Douce, Keeling, American Council on Education, National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (U.S.), & American Psychological Association, 2014). Students who may never get treatment could withdraw from college but if they get apt attention and support, they are bound to succeed in their college lives.
Alcohol and substance abuse among college students has posed a serious concern not only among students and parents but also educationalists including government officials and the community in general. The major drugs abused in college are tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana albeit there also other drugs abused in relatively smaller amounts like cocaine, caffeine, hallucinogen, sedatives, and steroids among others (E & E, n.d.). The imminent characteristics of alcohol and drug abuse are broken relationships, risky and lethal behaviors, hubristic characteristics against the school and local authorities and inefficiency in life functioning. Repeated use of a drug regardless of the problems it causes breeds dependence on the drug. Alcohol and substance abuse leads to impaired judgments and other consequences. The student will not be able to continue their studies well.
History of addiction in the family, low self-diffidence, exposure to negative emotions and insufficient coping skills have been ascribed to drug abuse. Peer influence, peer behaviors, and wrong social perception will affect the students’ pattern of drug abuse. The resulting effects include; risky sexual behaviors that can lead to contraction of sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy, accidents, deaths or suicide attempts. Tobacco use portends serious effects such as cancer or fires associated with careless smoking. The effects are not just college-centered; it will also affect the student after campus. Various crimes associated with alcohol like rape and physical assault could brood up including theft to get money for substance purchase (E & E, n.d.). It does not only affect the users, but also the rest of the students since they view those who do not drink as renegades are abused, or become victims of drug abuse-related evils.
It is, therefore, a personal, institutional and governmental responsibility to ensure that college students are made aware of the ills of alcohol and drug abuse by proper awareness campaigns, college programs that are busy yet interesting for students. It is also very necessary that guidance and counseling services are provided in colleges for those who abuse drugs to make them gain acceptance in the general student body and give a thought about quitting (Douce et al., 2014). Rehabilitation centers should be established within the institutions to help addicts. Parents should also be advised to bring up their children in ways that will not make them abuse drugs, and keep advising their kids when they are at home.
It is imperative for colleges to train professional staff whose role is to advise students on academics or those who want to drop out of the institution. It should be mandated to give student groups and organizational leadership to be able to identify signs of distress or functionality disorder amongst students (Douce et al., 2014). More counselors should be employed not just for advice on matters to do with graduation delays, drops in course loads, violence and assaults among students, as well as check indicators of mental health.
There is a need for integration of spiritual life in college programs. College students should be able to use spiritual experiences in their day to day lives, find identities and purpose in life, and gain love and acceptance (Brown & Parrish, 2011). Spirituality should also be incorporated into counseling, treatment programs, therapeutic interventions and techniques of counseling to provide wellness, a sense of direction in life and security and give a larger and nobler perspective of the world. Spirituality captures the body, mind, and soul of an individual and helps give hope to a distressed person that someone bigger than a human could assuage their pain (“College Student Development,” n.d.).
On the part of students, there are several strategic plans they should consider so as to develop emotionally, psychologically and spiritually. College students should learn to transition well in their quest for autonomy; in separating from their parents and swiftly liberate themselves emotionally and physically. They should learn to manage their emotions well; by learning to identify, articulate or control emotions and know the apt responses at each and every situation. It is also prudent to develop and pursue a purpose in life and tie it to the lifestyle (Baldwin, Towler, Oliver, & Datta, 2017). The choice of career should be on basis of a serious and perspicacious analysis by exploiting interests and then choose a preferable major. It would then be easier to learn the related job skills and look for experience in the job by engaging in related activities like attachment and internships.
College should present a chance for formation and development of lifelong mature relationships. One should learn how to identify friends, intimate partners and build strong tolerance, considerate, and intimacy skills which will be a basis for the life after college. A student should be able to develop life skills requisite for survival after college such as competence in both academic and intellectual faculties, creative and critical thinking, manual skills and effectiveness socially and emotionally (E & E, n.d.). College should be able to train one to develop a balanced lifestyle that incorporates both career and social life needs and yet be able to achieve success in the two areas.
Students should be able to identify themselves and develop a value system that guides them. They should be able to tie integrity with their identity; by acquiring and clarifying certain beliefs, ethical norms and morals on life, and determining what is wrong or right (Baldwin et al., 2017). College provides an environment which spiritual beliefs are nurtured in agreement with values and acts. Responsible behavior is enhanced with regards to cultural and surrounding awareness. A student should determine their own identity in gender role and define their sexual preferences. Self-identity should be able to direct a person’s beliefs and feelings on self-efficacy, looks, and body.
There are also specific personality traits useful for personal emotional, psychological and spiritual well-being of a student during their stay in college, and for interpersonal relationships. They include; adhering to time management, being flexible to situations and environments, staying tolerant to equivocality in life and to differences, development of a non-judgmental behavior, being tenacious and patient, being open and letting others know about their feelings and accepting mistakes to guide in future endeavors (“College Student Development,” n.d.). Students should also develop achievable expectations of them and be risk takers in order to take advantage of opportunities as they present themselves in their lives.
In conclusion, achieving students’ success has been an uphill task as it is influenced by various factors which include psychological, emotional, and spiritual needs. A lot needs to be done to enhance students’ success in addition to above mentioned strategic plan on time management, self-management and efficient learning for students. It is important to implement these strategies to improve students’ success by concentrating on positive factors like empowerment, spiritual well-being, and emotional intelligence. Government officials, educationalist, college administration, student leaders and the community at large, including the spiritual leaders must come together in order to overcome the problems bedeviling our college students, and therefore impeding the achievement of the dreams of the future generations. There should be constant forums to access situation of colleges and college students to be able to countermeasure any possible challenge. Therefore, it is significant for colleges to facilitate their students with psychological empowerment, spiritual well-being, resilience and emotional intelligence in order to achieve success.