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Tuesday, December 05, 2023

Finding college overwhelming? UF offers ways to cope

For brand new freshmen, the first few weeks of college life can be exciting and liberating, but they can also feel scary and overwhelming.

The Counseling and Wellness Center offers a variety of services to help students cope with the stress of college.

Lisa Winn, a licensed mental health counselor who has worked at the CWC for a year, said some of the main reasons students visit the CWC during their first semester are homesickness, adjustment and time management issues and anxiety about being on their own for the first time.

"Up to the point of high school, they had schedules guided for them," she said. "Now they have all these choices, and it's kind of overwhelming to make those choices on their own."

The CWC offers individual, couples and group counseling, as well as emotional fitness workshops. Winn said group counseling can be especially beneficial for freshmen who feel isolated and unable to make connections when they get to college. In these cases, she said, the groups help students feel like they're not the only ones dealing with those adjustments.

The emotional fitness workshops aim to show students different ways to manage stress and take care of themselves.

When a student calls the CWC to ask for help, he or she will be scheduled either for a triage appointment or a problem-solving slot. Triage appointments are 20-minute assessments that allow a counselor to fit a patient with the right service. Problem-solving slots are reserved for students who need help with something very specific, such as a difficult roommate situation, and require only one or two sessions to work through the problem.

Winn said students usually don't have to wait long for appointments. One counselor is always on call, so students with pressing issues may see someone right away.

Another way to get help immediately is by visiting the Crisis and Emergency Resource Center on the fourth floor of Peabody Hall. The CERC offers emergency walk-in counseling.

Winn's advice to first-time freshmen who are feeling stressed or homesick is to find ways to get connected with other people through sports, clubs and other activities.

"I think this university can feel really big when students first arrive," she said. "I think building relationships like that can be very helpful in negotiating the big university system."

The Counseling and Wellness Center is located at 3190 Radio Road. For appointments or information, call 352-392-1575.

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