Across the country, college freshmen are settling into their new lives and grappling with something that doesn’t compete with protests and political correctness for the media’s attention, something that no one prepared them for, something that has nothing to do with being “snowflakes” and everything to do with being human.


新2代理网站They’re lonely.


In a sea of people, they find themselves adrift. The technology that keeps them connected to parents and high school friends only reminds them of their physical separation from just about everyone they know best. That estrangement can be a gateway to binge drinking and other self-destructive behavior. And it’s as likely to derail their ambitions as almost anything else.


Brett Epstein felt it. “I spent my first night in the dorm and it hit me like a pile of bricks: It’s just me here,” Epstein, a 21-year-old senior at the College of Charleston, told me about his start there three years ago. “I was completely freaked out.”

布雷特.愛潑斯坦(Brett Epstein)體會到了這種感覺。“當時我在宿舍里度過了第一個晚上,這感覺就像一堆磚頭砸中了我:這里只有我一個人,”21歲的愛潑斯坦是查爾斯頓學院(College of Charleston)的大四學生,他向我描述自己三年前入學時的情形。“我完全嚇壞了。

Clara Nguyen felt it, too. “It’s a lot more difficult to make friends than people make it out to be,” Nguyen, a 19-year-old sophomore at U.C.L.A., told me about her experience last year. “I didn’t know how to be someone new while at the same time being who I always was.”

克拉拉.阮(Clara Nguyen)也有同感。“結交朋友要比想象中難得多,”阮是一位19歲的大二學生,就讀于加州大學洛杉磯分校(U.C.L.A),她向我講述自己去年的經歷。“我不知道該怎樣做一個新人,同時又保持我一直以來的樣子。”

新2代理网站The problem sounds so ordinary, so obvious: People in an unfamiliar location confront dislocation. On their own two legs for the first time, they’re wobbly. Who would expect otherwise?


Well, most of them did, because college isn’t sold to teenagers as just any place or passage. It’s a gaudily painted promise. The time of their lives! The disparity between myth and reality stuns many of them, and various facets of youth today — from social media to a secondary-school narrative that frames admission to college as the end of all worry — worsen the impact.


新2代理网站Harry Rockland-Miller, who just retired as the director for the Center for Counseling and Psychological Health at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, told me the emblematic story of a freshman he treated:

哈利.洛克蘭-米勒(Harry Rockland-Miller)曾任馬薩諸塞大學安姆斯特分校(University of Massachusetts at Amherst)心理咨詢與心理健康中心主任,最近剛剛退休,他給我講了他接待過的一個新生的故事,頗具象征意味:

新2代理网站“He was 18. He came to school and was invited to a party his first weekend, and he didn’t know anybody. So he started to drink. He drank way too much and ended up lying on a bench in his residential hall, feeling very sick. Nobody stopped and said, ‘How are you doing? Are you O.K.?’ And he felt so isolated. When he came in to speak with me the next day, the thing that struck him — what he said — was, ‘There I was, alone, with all these people around.’ ”


Alone, with all these people around. In a survey of nearly 28,000 students on 51 campuses by the American College Health Association last year, more than 60 percent said that they had “felt very lonely” in the previous 12 months. Nearly 30 percent said that they had felt that way in the previous two weeks.

在人群中,孑然一身。美國大學健康學會(American College Health Association)去年在51所院校對將近2.8萬名學生進行了調查,發現超過60%的學生說他們在過去12個月里“感覺很孤獨”。將近30%的人說他們在過去兩周里有這樣的感覺。

新2代理网站Victor Schwartz, the medical director of the Jed Foundation, which is one of the nation’s leading advocacy groups for the mental health of teenagers and young adults, said that those findings were consistent with his own observation of college students today. “While they expected that academics and finances would be sources of stress,” he told me, “many students were lonely and thought this was sort of unique to them, because no one talked about it.”

國內首屈一指的青少年和青年心理健康倡導組織杰德基金會(Jed Foundation)的醫學總監維克多.施瓦茨(Victor Schwartz)說,這些發現和他本人對現今大學生的觀察是相符的。“來自學業和財務的壓力是他們意料之中的,”他對我說,“但是許多學生感覺孤獨,而且認為這是他們特有的問題,因為誰也不愿意談起這個。”

Their peers in fact do something that mine couldn’t back in the 1980s, when I attended college: use Facebook and Instagram to perform pantomimes of uninterrupted fun and unalloyed fabulousness. And these “highly curated selves,” as the U.C.L.A. psychologist Elizabeth Gong-Guy called them, “amplify the fact that you’re sitting in your residence hall alone.”

新2代理网站他們的同齡人的確會做一些我那代人在1980年代上大學時不會做的事:用Facebook和Instagram來表演一出出啞劇,傳播不間斷的享樂和純粹的精彩。UCLA心理學家伊麗莎白.龔-蓋伊(Elizabeth Gong-Guy)稱之為“經過精心編排的自我”,它們會“放大你此刻正孤坐寓所的事實”。

新2代理网站Gong-Guy runs her university’s Campus and Student Resilience program, which helps students with emotional struggles and exemplifies many schools’ intensifying efforts to address loneliness, among other mental health issues.

龔-蓋伊是UCLA校園與學生適應力項目(Campus and Student Resilience)的負責人。目前多所學校正在加強孤獨等心理健康問題的應對工作,她的項目旨在幫助處于情感掙扎中的學生,為其中的表率。

新2代理网站Extended, elaborate freshmen orientation schedules are another intended prophylactic against loneliness, which is a common reason for dropping out. And as Lawrence Biemiller recently noted in an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, there’s even a push to place and design freshmen dormitories so that solitary time is minimized and interaction maximized.

新2代理网站廣泛而詳盡的新生引導計劃,也是針對孤獨的預防措施之一,孤獨是退學的一個常見原因。勞倫斯.比米勒(Lawrence Biemiller)在近日發表于《高等教育紀事報》(The Chronicle of Higher Education)的一篇文章中說,有的地方甚至在對新生宿舍進行專門的選址和設計,以盡可能減少獨處的時間,增加人際互動。

新2代理网站Three new residence halls at Goucher College, one of which opened last fall and two of which are nearing completion, typify this trend. Goucher’s president, José Antonio Bowen, said that the center-of-hall situation of bathrooms, the glass walls of laundry rooms and even the speed of the wireless connection in common areas — much faster than in the rooms — are deliberate pushbacks against forces that can isolate students.

古徹學院(Goucher College)是這股潮流的代表,他們新建的三座宿舍樓中的一座已于去年秋天投入使用,剩下兩座即將完工。校長何塞.安東尼奧.鮑文(José Antonio Bowen)表示,放在大樓中央的衛生間,洗衣房的玻璃墻,甚至在公用區域的無線網絡速度——比宿舍房間內要快很多——都意在減少可能導致學生們互不往來的力量。

“Students are arriving on college campuses with all of their high school friends on their phones,” Bowen told me, referring to the technological quirks of today. They too easily substitute virtual interactions for physical ones, withdrawing from their immediate circumstances and winding up lonely as a result.


That’s why the solution isn’t hourly messages from concerned moms and dads, whose stubborn attentiveness, no matter how well meant, can leave their children psychologically frail. Mental health experts and college administrators recommend a more thoughtful organization of campus life and more candid conversations about the tricky transition to college.


Nguyen, the U.C.L.A. sophomore, said that in her Vietnamese-American family in Southern California, all the talk was of doing well enough in high school to get to college and not about the challenges college itself might present. Epstein, the College of Charleston senior, said that his popularity in high school in the suburbs of New York City perhaps distracted him from any awareness that “I was going 700 miles away and being dropped in a place of 10,000 people and wasn’t going to know anybody.” What followed, he added, was “a long battle with anxiety and depression.”


新2代理网站One of the narrators of Tom Perrotta’s superb new novel, “Mrs. Fletcher,” is a former high school lacrosse star who arrives on campus “after all the endless buildup” and develops a “queasy feeling” that his world has become at once more populous and a whole lot colder. “There I was, people-watching and eating my omelet,” he says of one morning in the dining hall, “and the next thing I knew my throat swelled up. And then my eyes started to water.”

在湯姆.佩羅塔(Tom Perrotta)的精彩新書《弗萊徹夫人》(Mrs. Fletcher)中,有一位敘事者在高中是袋棍球明星,來到大學前“經歷了無休止的期望值累積”,卻最終形成一種“反胃的感覺”,因為在他的世界里人越聚越多,卻越來越冷。“我在那里,觀察著人們,吃著我的煎蛋餅,”他說起一天早晨在食堂的經歷時表示,“可一轉眼,也不知怎的,我的嗓子哽咽了,接著我的雙眼開始濕潤。”

We urge new college students not to party too hard. We warn them of weight gain (“the freshman 15”). We also need to tell them that what’s often behind all that drinking and eating isn’t celebration but sadness, which is normal, survivable and shared by many of the people around them, no matter how sunny their faces or their Facebook posts.