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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

How to succeed at college: Try doing the work


Photo: Alex Green/Pexels

Anxious about their children's anxiety, parents are going into crisis mode when their 18-year-olds face the normal challenges of college life, writes Mathilde Ross, a psychiatrist at Boston University's mental health clinic.


Parents call the counseling center if their child calls home too much -- or too little, she writes. They don't trust their own common sense.


If the anxiety is connected to academic performance — for instance, if your child is having difficulty following the professor and thinks everyone in class is smarter — consider saying, “Do the reading.” Several times a semester, a student I’ve counseled tells me he or she discovered the secret to college: Show up for class prepared!

Parents can give this advice too, writes Ross. It doesn't require a mental-health professional to tell someone anxious about an oral presentation: "Rehearse your speech."


If a child is having trouble waking up for class, it's probably not a medical problem, she writes. "Consider telling him to go to bed earlier."


"What if a roommate is too loud or too quiet, too messy or too neat? Advise your kid to talk to the roommate."


Of course, some college students have significant mental-health problems, Ross writes. But most do not.


Some commenters were indignant, accusing the psychiatrist of flippancy and callousness.


"Bed rotting" is a new "self-care" trend for Gen Zers. It means lying in bed all day and doing nothing to recover from stress. But, warns the National Post, "it is often associated with laziness." And depression. The Scots call it "hurkle-durkle," but that version is an early morning lounge, not a lost weekend of sloth.


It shouldn't require a TikTok video to teach people how to be lazy and unproductive, writes Suzy Weiss. Self-care has become a $11 billion industry mostly geared toward women, she writes. "Being idle has become synonymous with being well" and "being chronically ill has become a sacred identity."

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6 Comments


Interested Bystander
Interested Bystander
Apr 29

<i> "Being idle has become synonymous with being well" and "being chronically ill has become a sacred identity." </i>


So ... the opposite of what common sense would tell someone to do. No wonder there's so much mental illness going around with young women and girls.

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superdestroyer
Apr 15

Most universities have a long history of students dropping out or failing out. It goes along that most universities have lousy/non-existent counselling for students and no not monitor students to prevent drop outs. However, as universities began to be ranked and rated by various organizations, universities became sensitive to drop outs. That is why graduation rates are based upon six year instead of four and why so many universities pre-screen students to keep marginal students away from the hardest majors.

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linda.g.oc
Apr 15

When I entered college in the 60s, every one of my freshman professors made it clear that three hours of independent study/prep for each hour spent in class was expected and warned us about the likelihood of failure for those who didn’t put in the work. That message was repeated regularly, over the next three years. And, yes, doing that meant that those in the tough majors (disproportionately leading to well-paid jobs after graduation) couldn’t be in the campus party crowd and survive. (That was also true when my kids were in college, around 2000.

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Richard Rider
Richard Rider
Apr 14

Excellent article! But there are two other factors leading to college student failures: 1. Most of today's high school "graduates" are woefully unprepared for doing true college level work -- especially in the STEM fields. 2. Affirmative action admission policies put too many of these kids on the road to failure. Perhaps colleges should offer a two year major in getting a REAL high school degree, though two years might be too short a timeframe. Improving modern urban high schools is simply not gonna happen. That being said, even ignorant dunderheads can do okay in several of today's liberal arts fields, as the professors' goal is to keep the students (and their tuitions from wherever) in the college. As this article sa…

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m_t_anderson
Apr 14
Replying to

Amen on the poor prep. Most H.S. grads have what one of my in-laws described as a G.E.D., a "good enough diploma." Most kids don't understand that if you want a solid science, engineering, or medical degree, you need to practice and build skills starting in elementary school, just like athletes and musicians do.

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m_t_anderson
Apr 14

"Do the work, all the work," I always told my undergrads, back in The Day. "You'll easily get a B, and make an A if you don't embarrass yourself on the exams."

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