Seniors Seek More Psychiatric Help
Freshmen Showing Fewer Anxieties
More juniors and seniors seek counseling and advice on personal problems than freshman and sophomores--a complete reversal from a few years ago, counselors at the Bureau of Study Counsel and psychiatrists at the University Health Service (UHS) said yesterday.
"The numbers confirm it," Elizabeth A. Reid, associate psychiatrist to the UHS, said yesterday. "It's obvious from the annual statistical reports we put out. There are particularly more senior and particularly fewer freshmen."
Anxiety problems in the past stemmed from students' inability to decide what kind of career to pursue when so many different professional fields looked promising and lucrative, William G. Perry Jr. '35, director of the Bureau of Study Counsel, said yesterday.
"The students back then came to us with worries and anxieties about which field to choose and were concerned about how to make up their minds from all the different career possibilities," Perry said.
"But now just the opposite is the problem," Perry said. "Students now narrow down their career possibilities very early to ensure success, yet still feel uncertain and insecure about their chances of making it."
Perry also said students today fear that each poor hourly grade or minor setback will bear directly on their chances of fulfilling their career goals.
Mack I. Davis, assistant director in the Bureau of Study Counsel, said yesterday the tight job market situation creates a sense of desperation as students face the possibility of not getting the kind of job they expect.
This week the U.S. Labor Department reported that by the year 1985 nearly a million college graduates will not find work commensurate with their level of education.
Davis said students also feel pressured by parents who have become very concerned about their children's grades "because it [a Harvard education] costs so much."
Hugh S. Smith, assistant psychiatrist to the UHS, said yesterday although for years students' personal problems centered around developing "normal heterosexual relationships," this has now changed.
"The typical guy-girl kinds of troubles are being replaced by concern and anxiety over the future career prospects. This anxiety doesn't always result in severe traumatic psychological consequences, but it interferes with a student's ability to study and enjoy life," Smith said.
Smith also said the total number of problems concerning homosexuality has increased as well.
Reid said she has "no idea" why fewer freshmen are seeking counsel and that she could not explain why this year's class has not suffered from the traditional problems of assimilation.
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