Everyone knows that sophomore year is a stressful one. I found this out when I had a panic attack one morning in LITEC. What, you ask, would have caused it? A combination of labs for LITEC, homework for COCO, and midterms for both of those classes. I did not know what to do, so I turned to the Health Center. I called them up and I was immediately redirected to the Counseling Center. The woman on the phone asked a few questions about my condition, which, I supposed, were meant to determine the severity of my case.
It was only Tuesday and I felt really stressed—I wanted to see what the Counseling Center could do for me. After answering all of the questions, I asked about setting up an appointment. The Counseling Center asked when would be a good time for me. Since I wanted to make an appointment for the same day, I said, “Would any time after 12 pm work?” I was given the response, “We are booked until 3 pm Wednesday” (a whole eight days later). Since the earliest open time was in the middle of midterms, I would have to study for my exams instead. At that point, what was the purpose in finding out how to relax and stay focused for my midterms when I was already in the midst of them?
Should I have known ahead of time when I was going to finally snap because of the stresses that an RPI degree entails? Students aren’t exactly able to predict a meltdown. It’s unlikely that someone could squeeze it into his schedule during his 10-minute break between classes; it’s generally not an event we can put into our planners.
Of course, I failed to go to my appointment that Wednesday since I had a COCO midterm the next day, which I desperately needed every minute to study for. I was surprised that I was never even contacted as a follow-up on why I had failed to make the appointment and a possible rescheduling.
After a student calls saying that they are suffering from panic attacks and need help, you would think that the Counseling Center would want to follow up on the situation. While my situation wasn’t dire, who’s to say that another student’s case couldn’t have been more serious and merely overlooked? Many students who are in need of help are known not to reveal the true depth of their situation; in general, taking the step to call the Counseling Center is large enough, and being pushed away for a week doesn’t positively reinforce taking that jump.
Given the demands of an RPI student, one would think the Counseling Center would handle these matters with a little more caution.
I later found out from other students that, during final exams, it could take up to three weeks to get an appointment with a counselor at the center, which leads me to question where the problem lies.
Is this due to some understaffing issue? Has the Counseling Center undergone some budget cuts which lead to its taking fewer appointments? Or are expectations at RPI just too great for students to handle?
At a school like Rensselaer, resources like the Counseling Center are particularly important and it’s one area in which students should not feel the effects of the “economic winds of change.” Students should not have to weigh how important studying is for the short term goal of passing an exam versus attempting to improve their long term mental state.
While studying for midterms, I was stressed and miserable. It was difficult to focus on my notes and I did not feel like doing homework. While I do not know in what ways the Counseling Center could have helped me, I was willing to call and take that jump to see. Instead, I ended up stressing too much, not finishing my homework, and failing all my midterms.