Many first-year students arrive at university expecting parties and life-long friendships while working toward their degree. A freshman may have prior expectations which, if not addressed and managed effectively can cause significant distress, poor academic performance and an increased drop-out rate. While some people adjust to university life easier, that is not the case for many. Recently, anxiety disorders are being recognized as one of the most common mental health problems on college campuses.

Students arrive at university expecting to experience the Hollywood portrayals of reckless parties, fraternities and a close circle of friends. The common misconception that these popular images often overlook are the periods of loneliness that many students experience. In assessing a first-year student’s first week of college, many focus on joining athletic activities, social clubs and establishing friendships. However, due to the discrepancy of the coursework being heavier than anticipated, they begin to realize they simply do not have the time for numerous activities as well as academics. Therefore, students analyze their priorities, and sacrifices are made usually in extracurricular activities.

Anxiety is becoming more recognized as a barrier to education in recent years, and universities are making an effort by offering free counseling. However, fear of being judged or having to be in a social situation can be a struggle for numerous students, and they may not seek the help they need. Anxiety can be an isolating experience and it’s important for students to reach out to services or to find a healthy outlet.

The prevalence of first-year anxiety in university students is increasing throughout the country. Higher education exposes students to a variety of new challenges including new routines, expectations, and new friendships all at once. All these tasks and challenges can easily overwhelm anyone, especially someone who is struggling with anxiety. However, with the right supports in place students struggling with anxiety can receive the assistance necessary they require to succeed. 

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