April V. Taylor
Boston College research professor Dr. Peter Gray recently wrote an article for Psychology Today in which he highlighted how needy today’s college students are and how college’s are struggling to address the declining resilience among their student populations.
Just a couple of examples of the neediness include a student who called Counseling Services because she felt traumatized over her roommate calling her a bi— and two students who called police because they saw a mouse in their off-campus apartment. These are just two examples of how students appear to be having emotional crises over what could be considered events that are part of everyday life.
The emotional fragility that keeps students from being able to handle everyday life also extends into them being able to handle receiving low grades, so much so that some faculty are scared to give out low grades because they do not want to have to deal with a cascade of emotional crises as a result. Faculty also report that students have an inability to accept responsibility for receiving low grades, choosing instead to blame faculty rather than study or work harder.
The head of Counseling at Boston College summed up the condition of the country’s college students by stating, “I have done a considerable amount of reading and research in recent months on the topic of resilience in college students. Our students are no different from what is being reported across the country on the state of late adolescence/early adulthood. There has been an increase in diagnosable mental health problems, but there has also been a decrease in the ability of many young people to manage the everyday bumps in the road of life. Whether we want it or not, these students are bringing their struggles to their teachers and others on campus who deal with students on a day-to-day basis. The lack of resilience is interfering with the academic mission of the University and is thwarting the emotional and personal development of students.”
Colleges are now expected to provide intensive mental health care and to serve as substitute parents in ways that previous generations did not need. There are more students dealing with depression and anxiety as well as more serious issues such as psychosis.
While there appear to be no easy solutions, what seems obvious is that children need more opportunity to practice being adults without adult intervention, so that when they reach college, they have the ability to function without constantly having to rely on adults to deal with normal, everyday events.