We are a championship school. That’s the mentality drilled into the student body at The University of Alabama. As we cheer on the Crimson Tide in its athletic pursuits, we expect perfection. For many of our academic pursuits, the same expectation applies. However, instead of the game on the line, it feels like our entire future is at stake.

With the pressure to secure a solid GPA, pursue professional opportunities and stay involved in on-campus activities, health is often forced to the side. As a result, many students share the mentality to “suffer through the week and live for the weekend.” But, at some point, this mentality becomes unsustainable. 

Suffering through the autopilot cycle of college can be overwhelming. According to the Mayo Clinic, up to 44% of all college students have reported symptoms of depression and anxiety in the last year. To name a few, students suffer emotional outbursts, have difficulty completing assignments, and lose overall interest and motivation.

The freshman transition is stressful for many, and one in three first-year college students report feelings of depression nationwide. Living away from home, making new friends, and being exposed to new peer pressures on top of an academic workload can feel isolating and disorienting.

Typically, general education classes are used as “weed out” courses for freshmen. The lack of structure, increased rigor and large class sizes make it easy to become lost as an individual student. Since the shock of that new experience is hard to combat, failure and drop rates can surge as high as 50% in entry-level college courses. 

Honors students are even more exposed to these pressures. Many students enter their first classes at UA with perfect grades and stellar test scores, but it isn’t easy to transition from high school to college. Ultimately, these students find their high standards of self hard to adapt after years of success. 

So, how do you recover from failure? UA football coach Nick Saban’s famous mentality is to not “waste a failure.” Saban explained this further following the Tide’s uncharacteristic loss to Texas A&M University earlier this year. “Sometimes, the best lessons you learn are when you do have failings. And you can always learn more when you don’t do something exactly right,” said Saban in a press conference. 

Failure has an inherent learning value despite its classroom consequences. Just like the Crimson Tide players make adjustments in practice to continue to dominate on the field, students can learn to adapt from their experiences with failure. A grade doesn’t define your success, but your response can prove more about your resiliency. 

Even those with the best of grades can struggle silently with feelings of loneliness and social anxieties. Remember to take a moment for yourself. Evaluate your own mental health. In the long run, smiles and self-love are more important than exams and term papers. 

If you are struggling, the university provides various resources with student health and well-being in mind. Please do not hesitate to communicate your struggles openly. You are not alone.