Fresh@news is an e-newsletter created for the family of the Class of 2022! We're here to help you navigate your first year at Villanova University. Over the year we will share stories and information tailored to provide you with important dates and deadlines, connect you to campus life, and inform you of important Villanova news.

January 2019


  • Interview with Dr. Joan G. Whitney, P.h.D., Associate Vice President & Executive Director of the University Counseling Center
  • In the Spotlight: Villanova Phonathon is Hiring

Our interview with Dr. Joan G. Whitney, P.h.D., who serves as the Associate Vice President & Executive Director of the University Counseling Center will talk to us about psychological issues that are common among first year students.

What is the most common stressor that students encounter during their freshman year?

Moving out of the family home is often the most stressful experience a college student has yet encountered. Living with family provides stability during challenging times, so emotional times may be longer lasting when living away from the family. Furthermore, many students have not been accustomed to sharing a room, and find it difficult to adjust to their roommates’ schedule and style of living.

What makes some students feel like their first year is a less happy time than their last year of high school?

Students often feel that, midway through the year, they have not yet established friendships as close as the ones they had in high school.  They may forget that high school friendships grew through the years. It may be helpful for parents to comment about this, and help the student focus on that fact that they have started to formed trusted friendships with people they have met at college, though maybe those friendships are not yet as close as they will become over time. Furthermore, people post their "happy pictures" on social media, so a student can easily feel "less happy" than their friends appear to be. Pointing this out can be helpful.

Some students report that they feel depressed at times.  Is that normal for a college freshman?

While we wish this were not the case, we know from research that 18% of college undergraduates report that they have been diagnosed and/or treated for depression during the last year. There is a gender difference, in that depression is present for 10% of male students and 18% of female students.  The good news is that treatment is very, very helpful in remedying the condition.

What about anxiety?  Is that normal for a college freshman?

21% of college undergraduates report having been diagnosed or treated for anxiety during the past year. A certain amount of anxiety is normal, and even healthy. Healthy anxiety helps people reach their goals. Unhealthy anxiety can be uncomfortable, and even disabling.  Counseling is very helpful for students with anxiety.

Should I be concerned about my student’s weight fluctuations?

It is normal for people to gain or lose weight. Eating disorders are a concern for some college students. If you are concerned that your student is preoccupied by food, by weight, or exercise, it is worth considering whether there may be some eating disordered elements.

Is a parent’s assessment of their child’s wellbeing an accurate assessment?

Parents know the student better than anyone at the University could possibly know the student. You KNOW when something is not going well.  So trust your gut. If you think your student is doing fine, they probably are. If you feel worried, and are noticing changes, trust your gut.  Reach out to your child and tell them what you are seeing that is causing concern.

What should parents do if they become concerned about the student's adjustment, or about depression, anxiety, or other concerns?

Parents may call the University Counseling Center to consult with a psychologist.  We ask the parent to describe the nature of their concerns. We then give the parent a sense of: 1) Does the student sound worrisome to us? 2) How might parents address their concerns? Generally, when parents consult the Counseling Center, their student has not yet had counseling at the Center.  If the student HAS been seen, we cannot share confidential information about the student, unless the student signs a specific release permitting us to share. That can be confusing, because most students sign the "general release" – for academic information and a "health center" release, which pertains to physical/medical information. There is a specific, separate release required to share information about contact with a psychologist. Since parents know their son or daughter best, we appreciate the opportunity to help parents think through their concerns about the student.

What services does the University Counseling Center offer to students?

The Counseling Center offers free, confidential, private counseling.  Typically, students meet with a counselor weekly, for around 4-6 weeks, sometimes a little longer.  For students who need long-term counseling or a higher level of care, we help provide referrals to off campus mental health professionals.  We also offer counseling groups and educational programs on a variety of mental health topics.

Will a student be called into the Counseling Center?

Counseling is always voluntary. So a student who wants counseling needs to contact the Counseling Center by phone or in person to request an appointment. There is usually less than a one-week wait for an appointment.  If the student feels urgent, they can be seen more quickly. In order to schedule, they can call the Center at 610-519-4050 or stop by 206 Health Services Building.

What are the Counseling Center’s hours?

Counseling is available M-F from 9-5.  After hours, a student who is experiencing a true crisis can meet with a nurse at Student Health on the 3rd floor of the Health Services Building. The nurse, in consultation with our on-call psychologist, can analyze whether safety is an issue.  If so, appropriate steps are taken to ensure safety. That may include calling parents if appropriate.

What other advice do you have for parents?

My best advice is to be patient and supportive. Freshmen are constantly in a state of transition and are still adjusting to life at Villanova. It is normal to feel as though your child has changed in their time away. As long as such changes are not drastic, there is no need to be alarmed. At times, you may need to be the voice of reassurance, comfort, and reality. You may also need to engage in conversations that will help put your mind at ease about their overall well-being and happiness. Open communication with your son or daughter will be helpful in learning more about their college experience and their general outlook.  And, of course, if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact the University Counseling Center at (610) 519-4050 or visit us at .  We wish you and your student all the best, and know that, along with "growing pains," college is a time you may take pride in your student’s ongoing growth.
The Villanova Phonathon is hiring! This on-campus job opportunity is a great way for students to build their resume, gain communication and networking skills, and make connections across campus. Through the Phonathon, students call alumni and parents to provide University updates and to encourage them to support today’s Villanova students.

Below is an opportunity to get to know Shreeya Gajurel, who began calling as a freshman and was promoted to supervisor last semester. If your son or daughter is interested in learning more about working with the Villanova Phonathon, please contact Tracy Krentzman, Director of Annual Giving, at or 1-800-486-5244.

Name: Shreeya Gajurel
Hometown:  Lawrenceville, NJ
Class Year/Major: Junior; Business
Activities: ACT (Association for Change and Transformation), Women in Business, Running Club, REACH
Favorite place to eat on campus:  Bartley Exchange – parmesan encrusted fish is my favorite!
Favorite place on campus to study:  Reading Room in Falvey Library
Why I love this job:  I thoroughly enjoy talking with alumni and parents of the university, it helps me grow as a person when I learn about Villanova.  I get to network with alumni in the Business field and ask for advice for my future.  I also like the flexibility of the job and the fun atmosphere!


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