TU offers many resources for students who are struggling with stress and grief through CAPS (Counseling and Psychological Services). courtesy utulsa.edu

Navigating death as a student in college

Student writer Krislyn McKinney details her struggles balancing the stress of college with her recent loss of a loved one.

When most people think of college, they think of challenging classes or how stressed the workload makes them. Most of the time, if you go up to a college student and ask them if they are stressed it will usually result in a yes. The American Addictions Center states that 87.9% of students in college deem their school life to be stressful. Now, just think about what would happen if a student had to deal with the death of someone close to them. The stress could become so overwhelming that it could hinder their school and personal life badly.

Recently, I had to deal with the death of someone who raised me since I was born. It was an out-of-the-blue type situation no one expected to happen. I felt very rushed in trying to figure out how to do all of my work and tests early so I could get home. There were many emails sent out to my professors, and I even went to talk to some in person. I am very thankful that all of my professors were understanding about letting me take something early or getting an extension. However, once I came back, I felt like a brick wall of stress hit me, adding to the number of emotions at the time.

There was this need in the back of my head saying that I should get back on top of my work. So, immediately I started to work on homework and studying for tests that were pushed back. Looking back on that week, it seemed to be something that I was grateful for at the time because it kept my mind occupied. However, now I know that was not a good way of coping and it just contributed to more stress. Someone should never feel rushed to get over the death of someone close to them. It took time to build that relationship and you just can’t forget about everything in a few days.

Sadly, during the days I was gone from school I noticed that I seemed to be thinking about my classes more than I should’ve. With most of my classes taking attendance points, I started to get a feeling of failure as I wouldn’t have perfect scores on attendance anymore. This is not what someone should be worrying about in a very vulnerable time. They should be able to take the time they need and process their feelings of loss and sadness. However, that is hard to do in college as it is such a fast-paced environment. You can’t even miss three days without feeling behind on everything.

If I could go back and get accommodations, I don’t know if it would have made me more stressed in the long run. Trying to overcome the bigger workload that would come with accommodations seemed worse at the time, but maybe it wouldn’t have been. I will most likely never know, but I do know that dealing with death is hard on everybody. You never really know when or how something is going to happen to someone close to you. It’s not like someone can call you and say “Hey, take this week off in advance.” Life just doesn’t work like that. So, yes you may be stressed trying to get on top of your workload, but in the long run, you might be proud of yourself. Sometimes you experience some big hurdles in life but once you get over them, you come out stronger every time.

Post Author: Krislyn McKinney