Coping in College: The Importance of Spirituality

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By Octavia Sykes > Sophomore > Journalism and Women’s Studies > University of Maryland
The week is getting hectic. There are papers due, finals are around the corner and you need to maintain some sort of social life. With piles of stress mounting on your shoulders, what do you do? Relax with friends, meditate or maybe pray to get you through the week.? Whatever methods students use to cope with stress, the same end result is desired – a peaceful mind. 



“[My faith] keeps me sane,” said Princess Carroll, St. John’s University sophomore communications major. For Carroll, her Christian faith provides pivotal support in her academic career and her social interactions. Carroll also says her faith makes it easier for her to avoid activities that may cause her to lose ground academically.
A study on college spirituality launched in 2003 by UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) found that although regular religious service has decreased, overall spirituality has increased among college students. The study surveyed thousands of students across the country to gauge spirituality. It found that 41.8 percent of freshmen and 50.4 percent of juniors say spirituality is “very important” or “essential” to integrate into everyday life.
Art Institute of Washington senior media arts and animation major, Damon Darby, sees his Wiccan faith as an effective tool in coping with college. Wicca, also known as The Craft, is a way of life that investigates a person’s potential and draws on the diversity of nature for sources of strength, according to “I was you to stand all over the place,” said Darby. “I didn’t have direction or focus. [Being Wiccan] teaches on your own two feet and find your own purpose.”
  Sophomore University of Maryland Baltimore County molecular biology major Tyrone Howard prefers to take an apathetic stance towards religion. Howard identifies his belief as apatheistic, or general disregard for the presence of a higher power. Although Howard does not subscribe to a religion, he still finds a positive purpose in all of his activities. Community service and exercise fill Howard’s days with meaning and help him cope with the strain of school. “Having a support group of friends is also important,” said Howard.
Friends are also a source of life inspiration for senior international affairs and religion major Saud Inam. His friends are a constant reminder of what he should focus on in life. They help him avoid many of the negative distractions of college. “I feel I meet a lot of great people who encourage me to excel in all aspects of my life and have a very similar mindset of life, religion and spirituality. Often times these people have the same characteristics, morals, ethics, and values that are similar to mine, thus helping it easier to be a Muslim on campus,” said Inam.

Like Inam, Pikesville high school senior, George Fuzayl, expects his spiritual identity to help him navigate through his college years. “Spiritually is not necessarily anti-drinking or anti-partying per se, but with lifestyle choices that I make each day, I know that it causes a chain reaction with others around me. For example, me over-partying on a Friday night into Saturday morning, will disallow family time the next morning,” said Fuzayl.
Going through college with a sense of positive purpose is one of the best things students can do for their sanity. Without purpose classes and daily interactions seem meaningless, so feed your spirit, have some fun, and make every moment of college worthwhile because college only lasts a few short years.

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College Magazine Staff

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