College is a huge life step that comes with its own set of stresses and obstacles. Unfortunately, not everyone rises to the occasion—and the consequences can be far more serious than poor grades or even dropping out.
While education is generally known for its benefits in preparing students for a successful future, college or university also carries the risk of sabotaging that future, with the majority of these risks arising from one of two fundamental causes:
- College introduces new pressures and stresses: Higher education in the early 2020s is proving to be particularly demanding, thanks to widespread health concerns and the desire for a balance between in-person and virtual learning. College, on the other hand, has never been an easy adjustment, as it is predicated on performance and expectations in a manner that high school was not. A anxious, angry, and dejected student is more likely to develop a mood disorder—and is more likely to experiment with drugs as mood enhancers or “study aides.”
- For the first time, many students are cut off from their accustomed support networks. It will be months before most new students at far-flung universities see their nuclear families or old mentors in person, and their high school peers have dispersed far and wide. Not only is it natural to seek for new relationships wherever they can be found, but the feeling of being newly “on one’s own,” mixed with the expectation that no one back home will actually know what’s going on, is a huge catalyst for risky behaviour.
In people with pre-existing mental or behavioural health conditions, being separated from an at-home support network is also a common trigger for relapse. As a result, any prospective college student who has struggled in those areas (or who has family members who have a history of associated disorders) should consider attending nearby colleges and universities for at least the first year or two.
If you’ve struggled with a drug issue or mental illness, you might be concerned that your prospects of getting into any college are already bleak. You may rest assured that this isn’t the case. Anyone can start again with the right treatment and a sound strategy for the future.