Last updated on January 15, 2021
This material was written by a Dallas College licensed counselor. All views expressed in this piece are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Dallas College.
The end of 2020 was an incredibly difficult time.
Society began to open up and then closed back up. The economy began to pick up and then went down again. Hiring increased and then some businesses shut down. Everything was going up and down.
College was also very difficult this past Fall semester. Many students and faculty were experiencing a semester completely online for the first time, with challenges for both. Staff missed being on campus, and students missed them being there even more. Resources were being developed or adapted on the fly, but many students did not understand them or know they were available. And if you were in college for the first time this past Fall, trust me, it is not always this difficult, this challenging, this exhausting. This was a most unusual semester.
And so not every student was successful. I talk to a lot of students each week, and I talked to very many in the Fall. Many of them dropped classes, and many of them waited too late or did not understand the process and did not pass classes. Most students did not get to really show what they are capable of academically; their grades did not really reflect how smart they are or how hard they worked.
It was the perfect storm of lack of experience in college and lack of experience of everyone in dealing with COVID-19. Throw in students having to keep their families afloat financially and having to take care of sick family members (or grieve family members lost), as well as many being sick part of the semester themselves, and students were overwhelmed before they even sat down to think about their classes!
It was hard not to feel overwhelmed, depressed, anxious. Hard not to feel that it was all so deeply unfair. And hard not to feel somehow guilty for not being able to deal better with what was clearly a never-before-seen situation. We all felt like we should be doing more or better or something!
You were not a failure. You were not not-enough. There is nothing wrong with you (oh, you’re not perfect, but nothing horribly wrong with you, not more than is normal for regular human beings).
You did the best you could with what this old world threw at you, without a warning or instructions or a working manual or a map. You dealt with things you had never encountered before. You learned things you had never imagined having to do before. You found solutions to things that surprised you and puzzled you and maybe scared you a bit. You faced it. You dealt with it.
And you survived. You made it to the new year. We should all get “I Survived 2020” T-shirts!
January is named after the Roman god Janus, who looked both at the past and at the future. We are told to learn from the past, live in the present and plan for the future.
- The Past
The past semester was unusually hard and painful. We learned that we are survivors, that we can deal with pretty much whatever, that we are tougher and more resourceful than we knew. We learned that we will be OK.
- The Present
We are exhausted and uncertain. We still don’t know when we will be safe again, when we will be normal again or what “normal” will mean. But we are much better prepared, much better equipped to get there. We need some rest (!), but we are stronger than ever and deserve to be much more confident than ever. And in the new semester, we have a new start.
- The Future
Our past does not have to be our future. We do not have to let our past limit our future. Thankfully!
The vaccine is coming, and however you feel about the vaccines (there are several), they are what will eventually get us back to safe and normal. On-campus classes are coming, perhaps in small steps this Spring semester, but more in Summer and probably fully by Fall (or as fully as we will be in the new world). The economy will move up, society will open up, things will look up!
And you will have a new start (please, no jokes about “Star Wars IV, A New Hope”!). Students, your GPA may be a bit lower, you may find yourself on probation, you may be paying a bit more out of pocket — but you have a new semester ahead. You are in better shape to show who you really are and what you can really do and to pull all of these up. You know how many classes you should really take a semester online. You know how to better plan your work. You know how to access many more of the helpful resources the college has for you. And you know how to pace yourself and not get behind in the first two months of a new semester!
Last semester is not your future. You can build a better college experience. You can build college and life success.
The new year offers you a new start — grab it and run with it!
For help with doing this, contact your friendly, local (free) campus counselor. They have lots of experience with new starts.
Written by Dr. Jesse Gonzalez, personal counselor at Dallas College
Dallas College Free Online Counseling for Students
Do you need to speak to someone about something you’re dealing with? At Dallas College, we never want you to feel alone. Our certified, professional counselors are here to help you — for free!
Our team offers virtual, one-on-one sessions for any student currently enrolled in Spring 2021 classes. To get started, all you need to do is contact your campus Counseling Center at the email address listed below:
Brookhaven Counseling Center: email@example.com
Cedar Valley Counseling Center: firstname.lastname@example.org
Eastfield Counseling Center: email@example.com
El Centro Counseling Center: ECCStudentCounseling@dcccd.edu
Mountain View Counseling Center: firstname.lastname@example.org
North Lake Counseling Center: email@example.com
Richland Counseling Center: Counseling-RLC@dcccd.edu
Please note: If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, please call 911 or visit the nearest hospital emergency room rather than requesting an online counseling session.
Interactive Sessions by Topic
Our counselors also offer a variety of psychoeducational workshops and Let’s Talk Series to assist students in developing academic skills, exploring career options, making career decisions and growing as a person. These interactive sessions are free and available just about every week!
Our team of Dallas College counselors also proudly support TAO (Therapy Assistance Online) as a helpful, free resource that offers more than 150 brief, interactive sessions on various topics such as mental health, wellness and substance abuse. Check out the following sessions that are available on demand:
Enrollment Key: #Love
Let’s Talk About Anxiety
Join in: taoconnect.org/anxiety
Enrollment Key: #kick-it
Join in: taoconnect.org/mindfulness
Enrollment Key: #keepcalm
Join in: taoconnect.org/stress
Enrollment Key: #kickstress
Discover other events we have planned this semester by visiting our Counseling Workshops and Events page.
Community Mental Health Resources Available in Our Area
- North Texas Behavioral Health Authority can help pay for community psychiatric, mental health and substance abuse services — please call 214-366-9407.
- Suicide and Crisis Center of North Texas — please call 214-828-1000.
- National Veterans Crisis Line — please call 800-273-8255 and press 1.
- National Domestic Violence Hotline — please call 800-799-7233.
- National Sexual Assault Hotline — please call 800-656-4673.
- Message 741741 from anywhere in the United States to text with a trained crisis counselor. Heads up — standard messaging rates may apply.
It’s okay to say. Our college encourages and supports all students and employees in their efforts to openly talk about mental health. Even if you’re not dealing with a specific mental health issue, chances are someone you know is. If you see something that could be helpful to someone else, spread the word and share this information.