Your time at university should be the best years of your life, but sometimes the first experience away from home can be overwhelming. Achieving a balance between working and playing can cause added stress. If it all becomes too much for you, there are places at the University of Miami to go for help.
“Time management is the number one problem for freshmen,” said Dr. Malcolm Kahn, director of the Student Counseling Center, a facility offering a number of guidance and mental health services to students.
Being away from home forces students to learn to organize their own time, Kahn said. There is no built in structure, nor is there a family unit to provide one. The challenge for students is to learn to allocate their free time productively.
Kahn breaks this free time down to 112 waking hours a week, after subtracting an average of eight-hours of sleep per night. Constructively organizing these 112 hours is a challenge for many freshmen. Kahn says efficiency is key.
He suggests students plan ahead, making a written schedule to help avoid wasting time. This schedule should include class time and time needed to complete work assignments, as well as time to relax and have fun. Alongside this schedule, the student should make a list of goals and prioritize them.
“Learning these principles of time management provides the student with life long benefits,” Kahn said.
Kahn names depression as the most common mental health problem faced by students. Symptoms of depression are easy to detect, he said: a sad mood, slow movements, lack of concentration, problems sleeping, appetite changes (eating too much or eating too little), constant pessimism and irritability. He says that if you become aware of any of these symptoms in a friend or roommate, you should try refer them to the Student Counseling Center, where a counselor will work to create a program specifically aimed at them.
Seven psychologists, three full-time pre-doctoral interns, two part-time consulting psychiatrists and a social worker are on hand to discuss any concerns or problems, personal or academic, students may have.
Other common problems for students during their university years include anxiety issues, body image issues such as eating disorders, and family and relationship problems. Symptoms to be aware of for these problems are changes – in personality, in eating habits, sleep pattern or general routine, he said.
The Student Counseling Center offers a range of professional services, including individual and group counseling, crisis intervention, and learning disabilities assessments. There is also a response team for help in coping with sexual assaults. The Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) can be reached at (305) 798-6666 during the regular academic year.
All students attending the University of Miami full-time are automatically eligible for these counseling services. The center is located in Building 21, Room R, on Merrick Drive, in the Student Services Building. Regular hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday; appointments can be made by calling (305) 284-5511. In a crisis, after hours, you may contact your resident assistant if you live on campus. Help can also be reached on the Hotline number (305) 794-0086 or through the Department of Safety on (305) 284-6666.