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The Lonely Reality of College

Photo by Adriana Hernandez.

Life is an endless transition from one stage to the next. The transitions make people step out of their comfort zone and face the fear of vulnerability in a new environment. 

College is another stage in life, from being surrounded by friends and classmates in high school, to entering a new campus with no one familiar around. As college students commute to their universities, some find it difficult to connect with others. In high school, most made friends out of proximity, college is not the same. 

Students come and go, whether by dropping out or transferring to another school and some do not feel the need to make friends along the way.

Photo by Adriana Hernandez.

In August of 2022, a survey found more than half of college students reported feeling lonely, with 47% stating concerns of isolation. The National Library of Medicine connects the COVID-19 pandemic to students increase of fear, stress, and decreased happiness.

COVID-19 was a rough year for students. Every day as cases went up, public schools shut down, and many resorted to remote learning — turning a bedroom into a classroom. 

Lindsey Chavez, a dental hygienist major from Lanier Tech, is currently doing remote learning but has plans to return to campus in the Fall of 2023. She was a senior in high school when the pandemic hit, making her prone to feeling distant from her peers. Now a sophomore in college, she chose to return to school. But the fear of putting herself out there again makes her anxious for the semester. 

“Making friends isn’t the same, like I can talk to people, but having that connection isn’t there anymore.” – Lindsey Chavez

Dr. Ryan Roemer, a clinical leader of Adolescent Mental Health and Psychiatric Emergency Triage Services in Southern California, explains that the common reason college students struggle with loneliness is due to not forming connections with other people. “I most commonly see it in young adults struggling to create a new social life now that they have left their high school groups, especially those far from home trying to find their place in an environment,” said Roemer.

However, some are taking back this “no new friends” narrative and finding ways of being comfortable alone.   

Carlos Castrejon has lived a unique college experience. After graduating from East Hall High School in 2017, he moved to three different colleges for his degree, with his soccer scholarships paying his tuition. Being in new environments is a familiar feeling to Castrejon, and he charges towards it head-on. 

“My college experience has made me figure out who I am in times of adversity.” – Carlos Castrejon

During times of planning to move schools, he would acknowledge his feelings of stress and feel his body tense up, but keep the mentality that he can overcome any challenge school or life throws in his way. He says, “I viewed this as a way for me to grow as a person.”  

Photo by Adriana Hernandez.

People are using this time alone to find themselves and see what kind of people they want around. Castrejon explains that throughout his experience he became friends with his teammates solely because they played together, but never formed a real connection. He regrets that the friendships were superficial and wishes he could have done better. 

“Just be authentic. Authenticity is the most important trait in doing anything, you’re only going to make deep connections when both parties are true to each other.”- Carlos Castrejon  

College, in-person or remote, is a learning experience for everybody. Feeling lonely is not a strange emotion to encounter. Students come into a new campus with new faces and are no longer in a bubble where they feel comfortable. Embracing loneliness is not an easy task, but mustering up the courage to take that power back is a step in the right direction. 

If you or someone you know is having a hard time adjusting to college or have any questions about it, please feel free to contact Carlos Castrejon at (678) 392-5573. He’ll be happy to talk to you about your questions and concerns.

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Adriana Hernandez
Adriana Hernandez, Staff Writer
Heyyy, I'm Adriana Hernandez! I'm currently a sophomore at UNG, majoring in communications. And the thing that really caught my attention with journalism is that I can be able to write stories that create interest and questions among people and leave them wanting more.
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The Lonely Reality of College