Alone, and Educated, Together: Loneliness in College

The college environment is perhaps one of the most technologically and socially dynamic in our modern society. Tens of thousands of students, most within 4 years of age of each other, live together in a kind of quasi-city going to classes together and living together. Usually, these same students are extremely technologically adept as well. Applications like facebook, twitter, instagram, tinder; all are household, common names among the population of college students. In “Alone Together,” the author often referred to various technologies as barriers to social interaction, rather than promoters. In our modern college world, I think that this ia a possibility that need consideration. As the author Peplau details, “loneliness is most common among teenagers and young adults and appears to decrease in older age groups. College students are one of the groups most likely to suffer from loneliness.” (1) In this blog post I’ll discuss why this might be.

The classroom is the staple of an educational environment, and a university is no exception. However, the classroom of a college is often quite different from that of a high school or grade school. Hundreds of students are sometimes packed into the same room, giving the feel more of a seminar than a personal experience. Many classes such as our own still offer a more intimate environment, but even despite this they are sometimes likely to feel impersonal. In large or impersonal groups, the effects of loniness are often exaggerated. When students grow so absorbed in their education that they are unable to socialize, or they simply feel uncomfortable meeting to people, it is expected that they will soon grow lonely. I think that like in the article “Alone Together,” huge numbers of people actually accelerates these effects.

Another issue that I have seen college students face is the idea that romance is a necessity for happiness. In the same Peplau article, she writes, “putting all your energies into any one relationship or assuming that one person can satisfy all your social needs is a risky strategy. Unfortunately, the myth that true love solves all our social problems is widely accepted. Hence, young adults may tend to neglect friendship in search of romance. Rather than developing a close relationship with a best friend or nurturing close ties with companions at work or school, people may focus on “falling in love.” (1) Young people place so much emphasis on “finding the one” or discovering romance that they often times neglect other parts of their lives that actually will give them happiness. I have seen friends find a partner, and then simply fall off the map once they continuously spend all their time with them. In the college environment, balance is key. Though it may often seem that perfect grades, or great friends, or an awesome relationship can all individually lead to happiness in truth it is a combination of factors that cure loneliness.

College is often described as the best time of a young person’s life. However, there are many studies which show that this may not necessarily be the case. As with any time of a person’s life, loneliness is often inevitable. I believe that as is detailed in “Together Alone,” the technologies and situations we encounter are not necessarily what will define our emotions. What will is our interpretations of them.

1. Peplau, L A. “Loneliness and the College Student”. 1987 Advancing Psychology. 475-479.

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