When I was a freshman, I assumed college was going to be as easy as high school was for me with maybe a little extra work involved.

I was completely off base.

For the first time in my life I was completely independent and had to figure out how to handle everything on my own. It felt like getting thrown into the deep end of the swimming pool when I could barely doggy paddle.

Unaware of all to come, I thought I’d be fine.

The first semester I managed to survive. It was the first time I got a C in a class though and that hit me pretty hard. The semester afterwards was definitely the start of me sinking. I would eventually have to withdraw from that semester and take some time off before I tried to go back to college. I knew that if I was going to go back that I needed to have a different plan of attack.

During my semester back, I tried to talk more to my teachers about getting help and the person who really helped me was my English 102 professor. He realized I was struggling and reached out in an attempt to help. He showed me that UT offered many different resources for students and that the school cared about the well being of its students. I thought of UT as a school that was there only to give its students an education and nothing else. I was wrong to think in that way.

UT is not just a place to get an education but is somewhere that you can grow as a person and mature into an adult. The University of Tennessee offers many free resources for students who are struggling or just looking for extra help. Whenever I go to ask for help, I always feel as if I am a person and not just a student ID number.

One of these resources is the Student Counseling Center. Their goal is to “promote the psychological, educational, and social well-being of the students of the University of Tennessee and to help prepare them to be productive members of society.” I turned to this resource in order to get help in handling the stress of college and the underlying problems that had been negatively affecting my performance at college.

One thing that I cannot stress enough is that the Counseling Center at UTK is completely free to students. You get up to 12 visits of personal counseling per academic year to establish goals and work towards them. Each visit I had I always looked forward to. My counselor was genuinely concerned about me and wanted to know how I was progressing. It made me feel like no matter what I was going through and no matter how far away my friends or family felt, I had somebody to turn to.

And if you think that the counseling center will just drop you after your 12 sessions then think again. They offer group counseling that has no limits on the number of visits and it is a great way to continue to seek help if you need it. In the group setting it will help you realize you are not alone, and that other people experience problems that are similar to your own.

Another very important thing to know is that no matter how small you think your problem may be, the counseling center will treat it as if it is the most important thing in the world. They are there for all students. Your case matters to them and they want to see you because they want to help as much as they can.

Even though the Counseling Center won’t always be open, there is a 24/7 helpline that you can always contact at 974-HELP (4357). They have crisis trained professionals waiting to help you immediately even after business hours.

At college, it is easy to just get swept away in the rapids that daily life can turn into. It feels like you wake up, go to class, do your work, get sleep, and repeat. In this droll mentality you might think that UTK doesn’t care about your mental health at all.

However, UTK wants its students to grow as people, not just get an education. This is why they offer services like the Counseling Center. They want to help and all it takes is one quick visit.

David Horst can be reached at dhorst@vols.utk.edu.

Columns and letters of The Daily Beacon are the views of the individual and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Beacon or the Beacon's editorial staff.

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