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Campus Life Spotlight: Facing Withdrawal- Managing the W Curve (Part II)
This article is the second half of a two part series on the W Curve. Part one of this series can be found on the Campus Life website.
As we are approaching the middle and latter half of the semester, you may notice that students in your classes or those you work with may be withdrawing from coursework, classes, activities and even friends. While this may seem alarming, it is a common occurrence during this point in the semester, especially for first year students. Students experiencing symptoms of withdrawal may be experiencing the second valley of the W Curve, Mental Isolation.
In the first part of this series, Mental Isolation was explained as the period is a student's development when they do not feel as though the truly fit in. They still do not feel totally at ease with campus life and being a college student, however they do not feel as though their previous life prior to college truly fits them either. Students can begin to feel conflict between both places. This can often lead to feelings of isolation, homesickness, and depression.
If you notice a student demonstrating these symptoms, it is important for you to do what you can to assist the student. There are several resources on campus that can assist student struggling with isolation during this period of the semester. If the student seems to be struggling with one or more of the below issues, you may want to refer them to the ASSIST/Early Warning Program.
- Stress management
- Time management
- Life balance
- Homework management
- Job/time management
- Self-esteem and confidence development
If you believe that the student's symptoms may be more severe, they should be referred to Student Health and Counseling Services (SHCS). The SHCS staff is trained to work with students to provide holistic health services to students with life issues that are interfering with their academic pursuits through prevention education, on-campus counseling and referral to community resources.
Our goal as a campus during this time of year should be to assist our students through the valley of Mental Isolation, into the final peak of the W Curve, which is Acceptance and Integration. This is a period of time when students become more engaged in campus, and feel more connected to classmates, professors and the campus as a whole. They no longer see campus and home life as conflicting role, and are able to see the unique balance both play in their development. Ultimately, students may begin to call campus their "home."
It is important to keep in mind that not all students will be experiencing the peaks and valleys of the W Curve during the same time. Some may still be in the first half of the W, while others may have already successfully reached the final peak. No matter where students are in their W Curve journey, we have resources and individuals available to assist them.
This theory also is not limited to first semester, first year students. It is applicable to anyone experiencing significant change in their life. This could include students returning from a student abroad experience, international students, returning veteran students, and even new faculty and staff.