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I can handle it, can’t I?

I need help.

When combined, these three simple words create one powerful phrase. Yet, one could count the number of times they have heard Columbia students say this phrase on one hand. And that’s a problem.


It’s a problem because we as a student body have fostered a culture of people afraid to admit when they need assistance. A culture that values lying about intelligence and feelings over actually wanting to learn and maintain a positive, healthy well-being.

This is an issue that students at Columbia and most colleges face, but it’s something I think an overwhelming number of people fear. In the current college environment, students are constantly inculcated with the idea that the goal of classes is not to learn, but to immediately excel in the topic. It is this toxic idea that steers students away from taking classes that they view as “too difficult” and into taking that lower level course they know they can easily ace. And with tuition at schools like Columbia reaching nearly 70K per year, is it worth it to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars over four years relearning what you already know?

On campus, there are multiple resources available to support students academically. Most professors maintain weekly office hours where they are willing to sit down with students and provide extra assistance. Additionally, larger classes tend to have Teaching/Instructional Assistants who are always available to sit with students to cover basic concepts and help in understanding and completing assignments. If neither of these resources sounds optimal to you, be sure to reach out to your friends and floormates.

Moreover, this fear of asking for help is not limited to academic situations. It is also evident in students’ ability to be forthcoming about their emotions and feelings. In stressful places such as a college environment, harboring inner struggles is not only counterproductive, but dangerous. While in recent years there have been massive strides in destigmatizing mental health disorders and treatment, we as a society still have a long way to go. We need to develop more resources to create safe spaces to support our peers. Additionally, we as students need to make an effort to destigmatize needing help.

On campus, there are a variety of programs already working to support students in need. For peer listening, Nightline offers a student-run service that creates “a safe space for you to talk about anything that is on your mind” from 10:00PM to 3:00 AM at (212) 854-7777. In addition, Columbia Health’s Counseling and Psychological Services Office (CPS) is open year round to support each student’s psychological and emotional well-being. Every counselor is required to go through intense training. To be even more supportive, CPS’s websites includes detailed biographies for each counselor, making it easy to find a counselor with a similar background to yours. This year, the office hired six new counselors to better connect with students. CPS is a fantastic resource and something that one should not feel afraid to visit. Locking in or lying to others about your well-being is not only counter-intuitive, but destructive.  

Being a Columbia student is a stressful endeavor. Between having to manage a full academic workload, research, internships, clubs, and studying, it can be difficult to focus on one’s mental well being. This is why it is so important to remember to take care of yourself. Never let the fear of being looked down on influence your decisions. If you need help, go out and seek it. While we as a community still have a lot to work on, there are multiple resources on campus that want to listen to you and support you through thick and thin. Take advantage of those. Your time at Columbia is what you make of it, so make sure it’s as best as it can be.

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