The transition from high school to university has always been known to be one of the most difficult to adjust to. There are a number of stressors that find their way into a new student’s daily lives, whether it be academic stress, social stress, or personal stress, and they can easily build up and become difficult to manage. Many times, outreaches for help are met with unsatisfactory replies from the school and students are left to their own defenses.
The first type of stress mentioned is academic stress. There has always been academic pressure on youth to succeed in school, but it’s often times amplified when students enter into post-secondary. While high school was free to attend, university tuition must be paid for out of your own pocket which can cause students to feel greater pressure to perform so the money doesn’t go to waste. On top of this, many Canadian universities have mandatory minimums for grade requirements and failing to reach a certain mark could cause you to be removed from your program. The increased amount of pressure can leave one feeling less inclined to go socialize and find methods of stress relief due to worries of wasting time, which in turn can easily lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation.
Another common stressor is the difficulty of finding new friends. Moving to a new place has always been hard, but it can be even more so as an adult. University students are often very busy and can struggle to find time to socialize, especially if they commute a long distance from home. Even when they are on campus, class sizes tend to be much larger in university compared to high school, especially in first year. This leads to less opportunities for close relationships with classmates, as it’s difficult to remember the names and faces of hundreds of students in such a short amount of time. Universities and colleges are also home to a diverse group of individuals, ones with different cultural backgrounds and who speak many different languages. While this is amazing, it can cause more difficulties when it comes to communication and making friends. Bringing together those with the same cultures and experiences can help them integrate themselves into a new country must more easily and allow for a way to bond and make new friends.
Finally, we have the personal stressors, a main one of which is homesickness. It’s a feeling that most people are familiar with, and one that can greatly affect one’s mental health. For many students, it’s their first time living away from home and it’s easy to miss the support a family brings, especially with all the previously mentioned stressors being present. International students struggle even more with the added cultural and language barriers. The least we can do is provide them a way to talk to like-minded people and help them slowly adjust to their new environment.
All of these stressors can easily perpetuate mental health issues, and the increasing addiction to social media and preoccupation of the amount of online friends and followers only make it worse. It has become so easy to gain a large following online that there is an increased focus on the quantity of relationships rather than the quality of them. At Passionfruit, we want to promote symbiosis with technology once again. We want to enhance the creation of deep, meaningful relationships, not replace them with endless amounts of matches and online friends. You are not just a number; You are not just your GPA, the numbers of friends you have on Facebook, or the number of likes you got on your last tweet. You are a person with passions and natural strengths, and Passionfruit is here to make those the new way to connect.
Look where you can’t see.