Bye, Bye Summer. Hello Stress

 The University of Maryland’s Counseling Center in Shoemaker Building offers a multitude of resources to aid students dealing with stress. (Photo courtesy of Ndeye Aminata Ndiaye)

The University of Maryland’s Counseling Center in Shoemaker Building offers a multitude of resources to aid students dealing with stress. (Photo courtesy of Ndeye Aminata Ndiaye)

The scent of freshly painted libraries. The look of nervousness and anticipation. The sound of a professor's raspy and intimidating voice confirms one thing for certain.

School is back.

As many students will affirm, going back to or starting school after a month of sun and fun is not their cup of tea. In this day and age, the path to success is built on stress and worry. The start of school to many students means exams, quizzes, research papers and late-night studying. After high school, newly-minted college students are thrown into a new world of responsibilities. College freshmen must now balance more rigorous class assignments, social life, while trying to navigate new settings.

Hailey Graef, a sophomore at the University of Maryland, College Park, understands what it means to sacrifice home life to achieve success in college. After graduating from high school, she decided to leave her family and her home state of Arkansas at 17 to get an education in the data analytics field.

“I've lived on my own since,” Graef said. “Honestly, I think I really needed distance from my family. If anything, they stressed me out more.”

Since coming to UMD, Graef found work at a local grocery store. With work and school, she is trying to divide her time equally between the two, but as she admitted, it is becoming difficult to juggle both responsibilities.

“With things like work and assignments, I try and do the task well enough to get a good grade to keep things flowing,” Graef said. “Due to the cost of college, I can’t afford to go to school full time. Even with financial aid and loans, it’s not enough. I don’t want to take out a lot of loans and end up paying them back for the rest of my life.”

Parents are taking out thousands of dollars in student loans to help their children get a quality education. Deja Nell, a senior public health major at UMD, said she weighs the financial burden of her family sending her to college.

“I changed majors my sophomore year from Dietetics to Public Health,” she said. “Currently, my parents have signed off on a Parent Plus loan each year so that I can afford to go to school. That loan amount will be deferred to me when I graduate. I try not to think about how much money is weighing over my head as I will not need to pay it back for a few years.

“The biggest area of stress for me is the future. I worry about my future grades, future career, future lifestyle. It is very easy for me to fall under pressure. I can get overwhelmed by the number of things that need to be done. Or the steps that need to be taken to push me towards my future goals.”

Housed in the Shoemaker Building, the University of Maryland Counselling Center offers a series of psychoeducational workshops, titled Anxiety Toolbox, which provides information and tools to help manage anxiety and stress.

Additionally, the center purchased an interactive self-help mobile app, WellTrack, to support student mental health and well-being. Anxiety and stress are one of the primary mental health concerns the app addresses. WellTrack is free and can be downloaded in the App Store or Google Play.