Looking back on my freshman year, I can truly say that it was a solid start to my college career. Was it the best? Absolutely not. There were a couple of things that I would do differently to enhance my academics and just my overall experience. Starting with academics, there were so many times when I could have gotten a better grade on a paper, quiz, or exam. In high school, I really didn’t have to study to earn an A; but in college, that is a totally different ball game. You have to really put in hard work to earn an A in college. And I just wish that coming to college I had the discipline to earn a higher grade on a paper, quiz, or exam. Although I did not do horrible in my classes, I just feel like I could have done more. I could’ve spent more time in the library, rather than taking a nap every time I had free time. Classes that I could have earned an A in, were missed opportunities because I lacked strong discipline.
Another thing I would do differently is started to exercise more. I played volleyball for 6 years, and I stopped when I came to college. I was already getting my exercise in when I practiced two-three days out of the week, and then tournaments on the weekend. Now that I am in college, and I am not playing a sport, I needed to find some way of exercising. My stamina was super low causing me to be tired all the time. My eating habits were not the best either. Luckily I adjusted this issue at the start of winter term. I bought an unlimited groupX pass at the CCRB, and I started to regularly attend the workout sessions they provided. I also started to eat healthier snacks, and stop ordering out as much. As a result, I felt a lot better, and I was taking less naps. I think if I would have realized that my eating habits and stamina were affecting my academics early on, then I would have done a lot better!
Like I said, I didn’t have a terrible first year. It can only go up from here because this is just the beginning.
I feel that University of Michigan is providing the bare minimum of what is necessary for the prevention and treatment of mental health. There are many more resources that U of M could supply regarding mental health. In lecture, the topic of dropping out of college because of mental health reasons struck me a little. I remember Carrie indicating that because University of Michigan has a numerous amount of people that are on the waiting list, it is easy to replace someone who drops out. I felt a little uneasy about this because it seems as if the University of Michigan can be a little insensitive to those who drop out because they people waiting to replace them. At the same time, I feel that if faculty/staff, or anyone involved, knew the reasoning behind a student dropping out of U of M (mental health, addiction , etc.), then they would cater to that student’s needs in the best way they could.
In terms of prevention and treatment, C.A.P.S. is almost always encouraged to go when someone is having issues with mental health. I’m sure C.A.P.S. is a great resource, but it is not available all the time, so there should be alternatives. Placing a counselor in the residence hall could be very beneficial, and maybe even training Residential Advisor on ways to prevent or treat mental health with students. I also think having more safe spaces around campus, or in residence halls, could allow for students to feel comfortable discussing mental health. Many students feel that they are alone when struggling with mental health, and safe spaces could give students the opportunity to communicate with other students who are also dealing with mental health issues.
Mental health is a topic that needs to be discussed in high school, maybe even as early as middle school. High school can very stressful students, and learning how to manage stress and cater to one’s mental health could possibly prepare high school students managing their mental health in college. This could, perhaps, improve future college students’ mental health, and lower the dropout rate.
Outside and in college, the world is very competitive. Sometimes people find themselves competing over how stressed they are. “I am so stressed about my Chemistry exam.” Then another person comes along and says, “You don’t even know what stress is, wait until you get to Orgo.” Either way, both students are stressed. This competitive nature could damage their mental health by making it seem like their stress is nothing to take seriously because another student has “more stress.” We should definitely reduce this stigma of competing over whose stress level, or mental health, is worse, and maybe this could improve mental health among college students.
While reading my letter to myself, I couldn’t help but smile. I noticed a big difference in myself from three months ago. One of my goals was to develop a sense of interdependence. While I was in Bridge Scholars during the summer, I tried to get comfortable with being interdependent, but my pride would barely allow me to. I wanted to be independent and I felt that asking for help made me a burden to others. As time went on, I learned that being interdependent is very beneficial, especially in terms of academics. I started to work on homework with others and ask for help on problems I had trouble with. Nine times out of ten, the person, or people, I was working with needed help on something that I could do well. So, in the end it was a win-win situation. They would help me in areas that I lacked in, and I would help them in areas they lacked. I am very proud of the fact that I have gained more interdependence and have recognize the value of help from others.
Even though I did complete 6/8 goals I made for myself, I know I could have better study habits. Throughout the semester I have been inconsistent with my plans to study. So, next semester I plan on being in the library a lot more because towards the end of the semester I found that I was more focused in the library. Also, I plan on incorporating physical activities into my schedule. Most likely, I will start doing yoga or attending Zumba classes. I also feel that my eating habits need to be improve as well. I found myself feeling very lazy when eating unhealthy snacks, so I definitely want to add healthy eating to the list of improvements. Overall, this semester was not bad. I will definitely be keeping my letter to myself for motivation.
As we learned in class, there are different factors of social determinants that can affect our health in many different ways. Some include education, socioeconomic status, physical environment, personal behaviors, employment, etc. Although some of these factors have not directly influence my health, they have influenced some of my family members. For me, education and socioeconomic status has had both a positive and negative impact on my family.
My parents were both first generation college students from their side of the family. They both value education and ingrained the same mindset, or behavior, into me. My parents were able to break away from their family’s cycle and gain a higher education to benefit them in the future. Earning a higher education allowed them to move our family to a more thriving environment. I feel that education and socioeconomic status played a heavy role in my life. My parents are knowledgeable about health and they make sure my sister and I are knowledgeable as well. They make sure we go to the doctor’s for yearly check-up, dentist office, and they make sure they we have a healthy, balanced diet. They made sure we have health insurance.
I could say that these things are simple, minimal needs, but that would be ungrateful. Most of my uncles, aunts, and cousins do not have the “simple, minimal needs” I have. Their social determinants, specifically education and socioeconomic status, play a negative role in their lives. Some can barely afford health insurance because of their socioeconomic status. The one that can afford health insurance, don’t go to the hospital if necessary because they health literacy or education as a whole. From my point of view, some of my extended family do not go to hospitals because they are intimated by doctors. My grandparents feel uncomfortable without my father, or my sister and I, in the hospital with them because they lack education. I feel that since my immediate family had the opportunity to gain a higher education and move up in socioeconomic status, it has put somewhat of a dent in the relationship between some of our extended family members and my family. Family is family and it shouldn’t negatively impact our relationship; but unfortunately, it does.