Doing Life Together

guy-2617866_1280I think we’ve lost our common sense when it comes to helping college students deal with normal anxiety. We keep trying to find ways to help them avoid any negative feelings in college life. Who thinks like this? Apparently a bunch of college administrators and professors who need a shot of realism to return to their campuses.

I attended 11 years of college, have numerous friends who went to college–sent both of my children to college and never needed extra help coping with the rigors of getting a good education. Yes, finals were stressful, but that was part of the learning process, think under pressure.

Honestly, I am taken aback by all the measures universities exert that undermine learning to cope with difficulty.  How will students ever regulate stress or handle pressure given the climate that is being established? Look, if a student needs therapy because of real mental health issues–send them to therapy, but adding safe spaces and mental health counseling to handle conservative views is embarrassing.

When it comes to testing, well, exams are hard and you do get anxious before you take them. But never did I need a safe space to handle the pressure. The stress of testing is something you learn to face, not avoid, in higher education. It’s called building resiliency and we are losing ground on this important skill by coddling students with special treatment.

So here is the latest installment of insanity. The University of Utah has a crying room to help students cope with exams! In the middle of the library, designed by a fine arts student, you can enter the crying closet for 10 minutes and have yourself a cry in order to reduce the stress from your final exams. It has what you need, a plush floor and stuffed animals to calm you down. Students can decompress into tears from the demands of finals week.

Seriously? I’m afraid of the type of students who need these props! I don’t want to employ them. What if in the real world they have a project deadline or have to give a stressful presentation? There will be no safe space, no crying closet, no careful word spoken by a supervisor. They won’t get a trophy for participating and they might even be criticized.

With so little stress-inoculation along their educational path, I fear these young adults will not cope well. Or will they? Maybe the students know how silly this is and will step up when the times comes. Or maybe we will see young adults whining and not doing well in the work world because we haven’t prepared them. I’m already seeing hints of the latter and it makes me uneasy.

So stop with all the nonsense and let college kids stress over an exam and build resiliency. When you do the hard thing and conquer your emotions, you build confidence. Save the tears for real world problems!

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