College Issues

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“Suzanne Gelb Image”

”Just 21 – Who Can I Befriend?”


Dear Dr. Gelb:

I just got off the telephone with my daughter who is away at college. She just turned 21 and called to lament that as more and more of her friends turn 21 they are turning to a lifestyle of drinking and frequenting bars. That lifestyle is not what she is interested in, but she said it is lonely to be different. She’s smart and has high goals.

I told her I understood and empathized with her. Is there anything else I can offer her to make her feel less alone?


A: Dear Concerned Mother:

On the assumption that your daughter has befriended these individuals on campus, it is probably unlikely that there is a solidified bond to these friendships. In such instances, the type of loneliness described can be short-lived, and affected students can choose to turn their attention to other students of similar moral and ethical commitment, while grieving the loss and disappointment of seeing one’s friends indulging in immoral behavior.

”Exams – Why Can’t I Sleep?”

Dear Dr. Gelb:

I am a college student and I have a whole bunch of projects and assignments due before the end of the semester, and soon exams will be upon me, and I notice I am having a hard time sleeping. This always happens as the end of the semester approaches. Any suggestions on how I can get some z-z-z-z-zs?


A: Dear Tired:

Sleep disruptions amongst college students are not uncommon. It is so important to identify the cause of the problem, otherwise, tiredness can cause physical and mental exhaustion. Often the disrupted sleep is prompted by some type of fear — the student is preoccupied with something that is scary to them. In such instances it is important to learn how to express that fear safely. Then the anxiety is likely to subside. At that point some students have found it helpful to embrace positive self-talk such as “there is nothing to be afraid of, I am smart enough to deal with anything that may come my way.”

If you would like to learn more about how to make fear work for us and not against us, consider reading Chapters 2 and 13 from a book that I consider to be the bible of emotional health. It’s called “Yesterday’s Children” by psychologists Marti Barham, R.N., Ph.D., and Tom Greene, Ph.D. More information can be found at my Web site at

”’Suzanne J. Gelb, Ph.D., J.D. authors this daily column, Dr. Gelb Says, which answers questions about daily living and behavior issues. Dr. Gelb is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Honolulu. She holds a Ph.D. in Psychology and a Ph.D. in Human Services. Dr. Gelb is also a published author of a book on Overcoming Addictions and a book on Relationships.”’

”’This column is intended for entertainment use only and is not intended for the purpose of psychological diagnosis, treatment or personalized advice. For more about the column’s purpose, see”’ “An Online Intro to Dr. Gelb Says”

”’Email your questions to More information on Dr. Gelb’s services and related resources available at”’