Those who had an amazing college experience understand. Indeed, when I started college counseling years ago, parents as well as older siblings of my student-clients from Southeastern, CT usually would have already educated students on the possibilities for a great college experience.
I recall one of my clients. He’s from Old Saybrook. So I also know his parents socially. His parents had met in college. His older brothers had great college experiences as did his cousins. He walked into our first college counseling session and essentially said “sign me up, what do I need to do to get into a great college?!”
Then, something changed. Anxiety and depression began skyrocketing among youth. It wasn’t that the college experience wasn’t amazing. Instead, it was that those experiencing college seemed to face more psychological angst.
It used to be…. and I mean circa 2010… that kids from Old Saybrook and Old Lyme and Essex etc. went away to college and experienced, like all new things, some ups and downs and then by around Thanksgiving started settling in and making college great.
Now… less so. But it’s not college.
There are still a large number of students who have an amazing college experience (great friends, crazy/fun times, a soft exposure to adulting, all the transformative stuff that makes the experience epic). That’s because college still has amazing potential.
We – as a society – and perhaps more acutely among late teens are the ones that have changed.
And, Covid, of course, not only accelerated the anxiousness/depression rates but also nearly eliminated the last couple years of older siblings who would come back and say college is amazing… because they had an amazing experience. They couldn’t say that because they didn’t. Those who were in college last year and the spring of the previous year did not have even a good college experience.
Let’s hope the pandemic is soon coming to an end, that we will be back to normal, and that amazing college experiences will be back on track.