The Parthenon

ASK ALEX: ABOUT LIFE


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I have struggled with depression for a while now, and I was just wondering if you have any tips for managing depression and balancing school?

My biggest piece of advice is to seek some professional guidance. Marshall students can get counseling for free in Prichard Hall. The counselors there are very helpful and can assist in making a plan for your academic success while coping with depression. I think a plan is really important and can help make a big picture seem a bit smaller. People with depression are often overwhelmed by daily tasks. If this applies to you, I suggest making lists for the day. Create this list when you get out of bed in the morning or before you go to bed at night. Detail each thing you need to accomplish the next day. Break these tasks into segments. What can you get done before lunch? When do you have 5 minutes to make that phone call? How many pages of your term paper can you type in the hour between your second and third class of the day? When can you schedule some Netflix time? Breaking your tasks into pieces makes them more manageable. I also encourage adding something to your weekly plan to look forward to. That always helps me. Whether it’s a free workout class at the Rec (working out is proven to ease symptoms of depression!); enjoying Free Tuesdays at the Huntington Museum of Art; or attending a comedy showcase on Wednesdays in town. Having something to look forward to in a space that allows you to unwind and de-stress can be a huge help. Depression is common and can seem insurmountable, but I know by finding someone you can talk to, making a plan and discovering something to make you smile, it will get better.

I’ve already changed my major twice, and I’m still unhappy in my classes. I feel bad changing it again. I don’t want to change it, regret it and spend longer in school. I also don’t want to be unhappy in my current major. I want a degree, and I’m going to graduate eventually, but I’m afraid of the debt that will accumulate due to another poor choice in majors. What should I do?

I went through something similar to this just last year. I switched majors in my junior year, leaving behind a grant which paid almost my entire tuition (and which turned $12,000 in grant money into loans. Yikes!) I am much happier in my major now. I am doing what I love every day, and I am so looking forward to the future! That said, the choice I made isn’t for everyone. Money is no joke, and I think it’s smart to be practical about your finances. I suggest talking to your academic advisor and possibly someone at the financial aid office. Your advisor can help steer you in the right direction. It’s possible this is common for people early on in your new major. Maybe there’s something they know about, like a club or study group, that may make you happier in your new major. The financial aid office can help you find out if there are any grants or scholarships available for people in the major you’re considering switching to, or they can talk to you about work study options. This is a big decision with a lot of specifics to think about. Your long term happiness is important, no matter what. Fortunately, you are not alone. Send an email to your advisor and set up an appointment ASAP! That’s what they’re there for. Good luck!

To submit questions anonymously, visit alexrunyon.sarahah.com. For comments or concerns, e-mail [email protected]

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