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Students face dreaded 'mid-college crisis'

April 22, 2015

As another academic year comes to an end, some UW-River Falls students are experiencing what can only be described as a mid-college crisis.

The term is the unofficial phrase for the realization that college is passing and ultimately ending, according to Samantha Giedris, a journalism student at Seton Hall University, located in South Orange, New Jersey. It's when students start to reflect on past decisions and question current ones. They might think back to missed opportunities or begin to worry about their post-college futures.

"It hit me right when school started," said UWRF senior Sarah Zimitsch. "I was kind of like, 'Oh, I'll be done in about a year or so,' but when people kept telling other people I was going to be done, I was like, 'Oh my goodness, I'm going to be done. This is real. It's not just me that knows this. Everyone knows this.'"

UWRF sophomore Kirsten Fuchs said that she is worried about how her post-college career might impact her ability to pay for school.

"I don't know anyone who will graduate without loans, so you're putting a lot on the line and then there's no guarantee at the end that you're going to get a dream job or a job that you really do like or that pays enough money to pay off those loans," Fuchs said.

Director of Career Services Melissa Wilson suggests that freshmen and sophomores get involved with Career Services right away to avoid an overbearing amount of stress later. However, only five percent of the students who used Career Services during the 2013-2014 academic year were freshmen and only 15 percent were sophomores, according to data assembled by Career Services.

The size of the school is another concern faced by UWRF students struggling with the mid-college crisis. Fuchs said that she worries that UWRF doesn't have the reputation awarded to bigger colleges.

"You know that when you go to a large college, that's going to have name recognition," Fuchs said. "But sometimes you're going to have to walk into an interview and start from scratch and say, 'this is where I went to college, these are its attributes,' and try and sell your college while you're trying to sell yourself."

UWRF students have access to on-campus counseling at no cost to them. Assistant Director of Counseling Services and Intake Counselor Jennifer Elsesser said in an email that students typically don't seek counseling solely for help with the mid-college crisis. Instead, it's usually a combination of other factors that drives them to do so. However, students don't have to wait for it to reach an extreme before seeking help.

"I think if a student is feeling stressed out to the point where they cannot manage themselves or their course load or their studies, I many times will encourage them to meet with a mental health counselor," Wilson said.

"People are rarely as put-together as they seem," Fuchs said. "The more grownups I talk to, the more it becomes clear that people don't actually know what they want to do. You can be 35 and still not know what you want to be when you grow up, you know? So I wouldn't panic about it, not having my path all the way figured out."

"I know it'll be OK," Zimitsch said. "I know that the years do go pretty quick and I've enjoyed them, so I'm just excited to see what else life has in store for me."