January 22, 2014

The stress of being a college student {RIP Maddy Holleran}

Photo via New York Post
College is stressful. I've been reminded of that during this third week of grad school as many of my peers are already in panic mode. It's not just the classes that are tough when you're a college student, but it's the classes along with the involvements, along with making a really unique life transition.

I was heartbroken to read about 19-year-old University of Pennsylvania track star Madison Holleran's recent death by suicide. Her family believes she jumped to her death because of the stress of grades and depression issues. You can read the entire article here.

I talk about mental health in my book because it's such a crucial part of your college experience. College is supposed to be an enjoyable experience. The stress should never overwhelm you to the point that you don't see any way out besides taking your own life. I didn't get perfect grades in college and I can attest that not having perfect grades or the perfect resume will not keep you from achieving your dreams.

We often discuss being super stressed or depressed as something casual, but often times it isn't. I got a reality check during college when I realized that there is more to life than grades or rankings. No one is perfect, so I stopped trying to be. Instead, I vowed to do my best in everything that I do and give myself breaks when I need them. Dealing with the stress of college takes effort and planning, but it's worth it. Your health is worth it. And you're worth it.

If college or life has become too stressful for you, seek help. Every college campus should offer counseling, and if they don't there are hotlines and people willing to help you.

Maddy was just one of many college students in America who were battling so much that ending their life seemed like the only option. I hope that college suicides will become less and less common, and that students will seek help when they need it.

And I hope Maddy will rest in peace.


  1. Wow, i hope so too. Life is HARD and I give out as many hugs as people will take. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I feel bad when students commit suside due to stress..
    Keep in touch

  3. i don't mean to be rude or insensitive, but suicide for stress or because they can't handle college?, i know college could be hard, it is really, but there's thousands of students who could do it perfectly well, without wanting to hurt themselves or take their own lives, what is really worry is the ignorance on mental health. Lots of people don't want to admit that they are depress or have other kind of problems because of shame.
    And i know there are psychologists in every school, but most of the students don't go to find help there. It's really worry that this kind of situation happens, because is easy to say "she commit suicide for stress" but never wonder what was behind the mind of this poor girl to lead her to this point. Stress or grades are only the excuse.

    1. She knew what she was going through and she did get help. Her parents knew she needed it and she had admitted it to herself. You don't know the battles she was fighting with herself. Depression is serious and so is the message she sent about taking her own life. You don't know her nor her story. So before you accuse her schoolwork and athletics as an excuse to taking her own life, she was never used to this amount of stress. It could have been the reason and maybe it wasn't. As someone who has battled depression and wanted to take their own life, I know what its like. I pray you never have to go through a battle against yourself like Maddy had.

  4. I am so sorry to hear about it. It can be stressing for fellow students..please take care!

  5. She's from around where I live....this is the saddest thing ever. It's crazy she had so much going for her, too. Thank you for posting about this and bringing it to others attention

  6. I was thinking of writing a post about this too. UPenn is really close to where I live. And suicide is something I am all to familiar with, from losing a friend. The stress of college certainly gets to all of us, it is just so unfortunate that it consumed this young women.


  7. Hello from Spain: I am saddened by the death of Maddy Holleran. A tragedy. Keep in touch.

  8. So sad :( I've definitely struggled to keep a balance between having too much going on/too stressed and just enough. It's a hard line to walk!!

  9. It's sad when someone feels they have no other option...

  10. RIP Maddie. I totally agree, it's so important you focus on your mental well being during college and realize it's okay to stop and take a breather! Well said, Vett.


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