The balance between mental and physical health confuses students

Jennifer Guardado

Sports Writer

jguardad@unca.edu

Photo Contributed by Jennifer Guardado                                                 Lorena Rodriguez shows her eccentric style off in Asheville.

College life consumes even its best students without proper alignment of both mental and physical health.

“I was battling trying to deal with life, trying to juggle school and all of the other clubs and organizations I was a part of,” said Preston Roach, coordinator of student success mentoring programs and academic adviser at UNC Asheville. “I had a mental collapse and I was literally crying for almost 3 hours straight, a legit fountain. I had to disconnect for a little bit and come back.”

According to Impact of Time Management Behaviors journal, acquiring strong time management skills compliments higher academic success as well as lower stress levels. An imbalance within ones academic and personal life leads to time mismanagement, poor sleep patterns and increased stress levels.

“When you put off things like sleep, nutrition or exercise, even just going for a 10 minute walk can be beneficial especially if you’re going through challenging things in your life,” Roach said. “You can get lost in your head and that’s not the best way to live. The more stability you have in your personal life, the better your academics can be.”

Roach said students come to him for all types of guidance, whether they need assistance on their class schedules, staying on track for their degree plan or finding available internships. He said students consider dropping out when schedules become too much for them.

Asheville local, Lorena Rodriguez, graduated with her associates degree from Asheville Buncombe Technical Community College. She planned on transferring to a four-year school but said she felt overwhelmed with her life.

“I don’t know. I felt if I added one more thing to my plate, I was gonna crash so I decided to put it off. I’m good at school, grammar, math, science, all of that but I’m bad at life. There’s things that school will never prepare you for,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez put off school for a year and while she hoped to come back life continued to be a struggle.

She works at a local office full of grey cubicles and small businesses.

“I really do like my work. I make more money than I had imagined and I work with people I’m really close to. I don’t neccesarily feel like I have to go back to school but in the back of my head it does irritate me. I know my mom always wanted me to finish,” Rodriguez said.

“It gets kind of crazy sometimes. Withdrawing from the semester is usually the best option if they don’t think they can stay on top of their work. I try to offer more than one possibility depending on how many credit hours they’re taking but sometimes dropping out is the best decision,” Roach said.

Roach spends much of his time as a mentor to students and to the public community. He offers advice, motivational speeches, and several forms of resources to gain a better understanding of life.

“In grad school I dropped out my first semester. I was struggling trying to find a job. I wasn’t eating. I lost almost 30 pounds in less than 1 ½ months and I didn’t have financial support from my family,” Roach said.

Roach became familiar with the hardships of life at an early age. He used these times as learning experiences that could teach and help others through similar circumstances.

“I don’t think school is hard. I think school can become difficult if life is difficult,” Roach said.

Time management enacts a serious issue when students decide to drop out of school especially if they support themselves, said Andrew Lockwood, an assistant professor in environmental studies at UNCA.

Lockwood said he tries to help his students when they struggle balancing their external and academic lives. He said It becomes difficult to know what the full situation is if students don’t feel comfortable building a rapport.

Studies show most students will not come forward about mental illnesses or stress related issues unless they are coerced into it. Rodriguez said she never told anyone how she felt.

“I think my family was aware to some extent but that’s only because we live together and you pick up on some of those things but they definitely didn’t know the full extent of it. Even now, I’m still struggling to deal with my aniety and depression. There’s times where I think about going back to school but I can’t imagine the stress of it all,” Rodriguez said.

Lockwood said environmental studies requires a lot of personal time, more so than a lot of others. He said he confronts time management issues equally and in consideration of all students.

“When people ask me for extra credit, I tell them, what I offer to you, I’m going to have to offer to everyone because that’s just fair,” Lockwood said. “ I can’t necessarily say yes you can do an assignment for 10 extra points but then not tell someone else they can do the same thing.

I like to get to know my students. I like to understand where they’re coming from,” Lockwood said. “A good professor is going to know what their students are dealing with outside of school; however, it is up to the student to feel comfortable enough sharing that with the professor.”

Lockwood said he was fortunate enough to focus primarily on school rather than work during his academic journey but he said he understands UNCA has a lot of untraditional students who shift between both.

According to Impact of Time Management Behaviors journal, effort contributes to learning. Engaging with your studies both independently and collaboratively allows the student to maximize their perceived lack of time.

“I dropped out twice. I had a son during my freshman year. I had a full time job supporting myself and my boy. I thought there was just no way,” said former Western Carolina University student Megan Hannigan.

UNCA holds a graduation rate of 64 percent in comparison to WCU at a 56 percent graduation rate. According to College Atlas, 70 percent of Americans study at a 4 year college although less than two-thirds will graduate with a degree.

Hannigan works at an Ingles warehouse currently. She changes shifts often and rarely gets a say as to what it will be. She said the hours overwhelm her but she doesn’t have many other options that have an equal pay.

“I don’t regret the decision. I would have flunked out if I had stayed but I do regret not going back,” Hannigan said. “It’s important to be able to communicate with those around you. I had advisors, mentors, family, all that but I chose not to reach out for my own immature reasons. I was the model for dysfunctional teenager and unfortunately I’m still trying to move past that  but I’m happy to know there are still possibilities for myself and many other kids in the same place I was in.”

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