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College student memes: a product of the six stages of "college student" grief

by Alyssa Daley - Editor in Chief
Tue, Feb 13th 2018 10:00 pm

Dear readers,

I thought I’d try and make you laugh this week since last week was all about how broke the majority of us are, and unless we’re having a slight mental break, the state of our finances tends not to be a laughter-inducing matter. 

How we deal with our existence as college students is comparable to the seven stages of grief people go through after experiencing the death of someone close to them. As college students, we are not necessarily grieving because of the loss of a someone as a typical mourner would, but rather a something — our childhood. 

As always, it’s back to the Daley grind!




The seven stages of grief, according to recover-from-grief.com, are: shock and denial; pain and guilt; anger and bargaining; depression, reflection and loneliness; the upward turn; reconstruction and working through; and hope and acceptance. The six stages of “college student grief” are similar. I have simply combined depression, reflection and loneliness. Of course, each stage’s definitions are different. 

Stage 1: Shock and Denial

After the initial “newness” of college wears off during freshman year, the shock and denial sets in. This is totally normal, as the transition from high school to college is a large one. This occurs prior to the onset of homesickness. 

It can be described as a general numbness of emotions where the student continues to follow their routine schedule, but emotionally, they’re closed off or at least more reserved than normal. The length of this stage depends on the individual and how well they were prepared for college.

Stage 2: Pain and Guilt, a.k.a Homesickness

This stage is also known as homesickness. Some newly admitted students have never been away from their family for a long period of time, and the longing to be back in a familiar setting where they know they’ll feel comfortable can be described as a physical pain. The guilt of being away from parents, siblings and other members of their families can also arise during this stage. Feeling as though they’ve abandoned their family by moving to college is a common cause behind this wave of guilt. The length of this stage depends on how close the individual was with their family and how often they stayed away from home prior to college.

Stage 3: Anger and Bargaining

The way this stage manifests itself, if it does at all, depends on the student’s living situation. If you are living with a roommate, every little thing they do can be irksome. Maybe it’s the way they always leave crumbs on the floor, how they never do their laundry until their side of the room resembles the carnage left over from a tornado or the inconvenience of their roommate not going to sleep until three in the morning when they have an 8 a.m. class. 

The length of this stage depends on the individual as well as the roommate. Honestly, it may never go away completely if the two are too different. If that’s the case, students can always request to move to another room. 

Stage 4: Depression, Reflection and Loneliness

This stage does not have an exact place on the timeline. It can really arise at any point during the college student’s academic career, normally triggered by bouts of high-stress situations and rampant disappointment. This could mean: bad grades, issues within their social circles, family life entreating on college life or being too immersed in trying to answer the “what am I doing with my life” question. 

This is the stage where the college-oriented jokes and memes can have the most positive effect. They work to make the student feel connected and less lonely. Like the timeliness of this stage’s arrival, it’s duration is also hard to predict. There are certain instances where it could just be a two-to seven-day slump or it could evolve into a serious concern where counseling becomes a necessary possibility. 

Stage 5: The Upward Turn, a.k.a. Overcoming College Student Hardships by Way of Humor

This is the stage where all of the wonderous, belly hurting jokes and memes spawn from. Like stage four, stage five can begin and end sporadically over a student’s time in college. These periods of actual happiness and joy can be relatively rare depending on the student, and something to cherish. 

Ways to increase the number of times this stage occurs, as well as its longevity, are: make sure to arrange a fun activity at least once a week, make sure you have time to unwind and reset before the next week begins so you can mentally, emotionally and physically prepare yourself, and last but not least, try to spend time doing something you are passionate about, for no other reason than to do it once a week (if making memes is it, then please keep making them to help us all through).

Stage 6: Reconstruction, Working Through, and Hope and Acceptance

This stage comes after graduation. For all of you graduating in May, this light at the end of the tunnel is oh so close. It’s reasonable that it will take awhile for this stage to become complete, as college, for traditional students, is four long years of working through the various stages listed above this stage. This stage is what helps college students make it through all of the others. The hope is that after everything they go through, all those meme-able moments, they will come out of it successful and ready to own their role in the play that is the world. 

It is during this stage that the student-turned graduate can look back on all of those memes and laugh quite hysterically because when they were experiencing the situation, it might have been a low point, but at the time of this reflection they are in a place far removed from that original experience. Memes focused on the life of college students are a method to make it through, but also to remember what it was like.

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