This year, Rollins College admitted its largest Freshman class. Members of this cohort, however, have described a shared feeling of loneliness.
“The hardest part so far has just been making real friends,” said Liv McCoy (‘26). “Sometimes it feels like there is almost this invisible wall separating me from a lot of groups, and I just have to figure out how to get past it as I have with other people at Rollin.”
McCoy cited several factors that she believes contributed to loneliness: the pandemic, social media, stigma surrounding mental health, and the small size of Rollins. To combat being lonely, McCoy tries to put herself out there, journal, and do yoga. She has found her mindful activism class with Dr. Kathryn Norsworthy helpful, as it has taught her breathing and grounding techniques. McCoy also finds it essential to have someone to talk to, so she and her friends partake in weekly FaceTime calls.
Despite feelings of loneliness, McCoy has found some positives in her college experience thus far.
“The easiest part of college for me was decorating my dorm and figuring out my schedule. I take pleasure in art, so decorating my room was just another form of art for me,” McCoy added. “I also got all the classes I chose, so my schedule was pretty well set-up.”
For other freshmen, finding new friends may be easy, but loneliness still persists.
“The easier part of college for me right now is making friends; I’ve been told by a lot of people here that I’m a ‘social butterfly’—I don’t really see it, but they do,” said Taliyah Marshall (‘26). “The hardest thing about [college] is accepting that I’m growing up. As much as I love being on my own, it’s hard and a bit lonely sometimes thinking how fast my childhood is slipping away from me.”
“By focusing on my interests, I find myself feeling less lonely and more entertained,” added Marshall, who cited reading, writing, and scrolling through Tik-Tok as some of her main interests. To maintain her mental health, Marshall also emphasized the importance of consistency in a daily routine.
For those feeling lonely, the Office of Student and Family Care is one resource on campus. Located across from the bookstore, their purpose is to help students navigate not only their time at Rollins, but life in general, helping students advocate for themselves and assisting their transition into adulthood.
“We try to be an office of answers. We may not be the right answer, but we know who has the right answers for them, so any type of barrier or difficulty that students may be experiencing we’re here for them,” said Director of the Office of Student and Family Care Penelope Strater.
While they do not have any specific statistics on the matter, Strater doesn’t believe that freshmen loneliness is unique to this cohort. She emphasized that it is normal for their office to have freshmen expressing such concerns—especially two to four weeks into the semester. Strater cites homesickness and the large size of this year’s cohort as contributing to factors to the current bout of freshmen loneliness.
“When we’re working with a student who comes in and they say I’ve got a problem or I’m not making a bestfriend—we don’t just talk about ways to make a best friend, we talk about all the things and we are going to use them,” Strater said.
In order to combat loneliness, Strater points to the nine dimensions of wellness, which includes aspects such as social, intellectual, emotional, physical, and creative well-being.
The Office of Student and Family Care wants students to know that they are a safe space for students to visit if they are facing a problem such as loneliness.
For prioritizing one’s mental health, here are a few tips from some of this year’s freshmen:
- Put yourself first: make sure you schedule time for self care
- Listen to yourself: take time to listen to both your body and your mind
- Talk to a friend or someone else that you can trust
- If you don’t feel comfortable talking to someone that you know, consider therapy or visiting the Wellness Center and their events