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I've Got To Get Out of Here!!!

If you have ever had this feeling, you are in good company. Feeling confined, limited, or simply under too much pressure is common both in college and--sorry folks--in Life! There are many situations that trigger the survival instinct to bolt and run, to escape from the problem. Sometimes escape is a good idea; at other times it is better to face the problem or alter the conditions that are making you feel as if you want to get out of here.

Whatever the solution, it can only be found by knowing what you mean by HERE. Is it a class, a dorm room, your house, a team, a club, a group, a relationship, C. W. Post, Long Island, America? You see, "I've got to get out of here" is a relative statement that depends on where here is! Let's examine particular situations.

I've got to get out of this class!

Perhaps you have enrolled in a class that is not working out for you. It might be too easy or too difficult. It might be something other than what you had imagined. The professor might be incomprehensible or dull. Whatever the situation, you feel a strong urge to get out of there. Do it! There is a Drop/Add period in the first week of classes that permits you to get out of a class that is not working for you. Don't waste time. Get out at the beginning. If you feel as if you want to hang on, that it might improve, or you might catch on, or it's required and you have no other choice, start to get help at once. Commit yourself to completing the class and go to every session. If you have decided not to take the escape route, then you have to be there, read the books, take the exams and write the papers! Finished. Either escape or stay! Tutoring, group study, or meeting with your professor for extra help might, in fact, alleviate your stress, and in the best possible scenario you might do well and/or enjoy the course in the end.

I've got to get out of this dorm room!

Feeling uncomfortable in a college living situation is a common experience. It is usually the result of two students with opposite habits or values being thrown together as living partners. One parties all night; the other wants to study. One drinks; the other doesn't. One is sloppy or filthy; the other is neat and clean. One is polite; the other is rude. There are thousands of permutations. Residence Life and Housing asks students to go through a period of adjustment before deciding that it is totally impossible to live together as roommates. During that period, you should try to work things out and if you need to, get some help from your RA in discussing the problems that you have together. If there is no improvement, then you should plan to change rooms during the period allotted for change. It is important to know the schedule because you have a slim window of opportunity. Protect yourself by knowing the rules, trying to adjust, and if that fails, making your escape at the appointed time! Follow the procedure and don't wait until it is too late.

Sometimes roommates are not the problem. Space is! The dorms are small and crowded places, and it is easy to go stir crazy from being locked up in them for too long. Especially if your family does not live close by, or you do not want to get into the habit of going home for the weekend--after all, you are living away at college--find other escapes! Go to New York! The city is only 25 miles away, and there are endless opportunities for inexpensive fun. New York has thousands of cheap restaurants (get a copy of Zagat or check the Internet). Go to a museum, a film, a show. Standing room at the opera is under $20. Make a date with friends to get out and enjoy the city. People from all over the world are thrilled to be in New York. You should be too.

Speaking of concerts and theatre, there is plenty of that on campus too. Get out of the dorm and see something at the Tillis Center at student prices. Go to a play at the Little Theatre, or a recital given by music students. If the dorm is giving you a case of claustrophobia, get out and do something. Take a walk and look at the horses. Shoot hoops, play tennis, run.

Entertaining yourself is not the only alternative. Doing volunteer work might give you an altogether different perspective. There are many people whose lives are much more limited than your own. Giving them time might give you something very important in return--a sense of accomplishment and a new perspective. Other people of all kinds can offer you new perspectives. Visit with some of the international students on campus. Learn about their cuisine and help them get to know Long Island and the New York area. Building a circle of different kinds of friends will extend the boundaries of your own life and help you escape from the kind of containment that you might feel. Stretch!

I've got to get out of my house!

If you are a student who lives at home, you might feel a very different need to escape. You might be sick of babysitting for younger siblings, listening to family issues when you want to be doing your homework or going out with friends. You might resent the fact that your friends at school have much more freedom to make their own choices, while you are stuck there, under the rule of your parents.

If you are living at home because of financial reality, take a deep breath and think about the future. Maybe you could plan to save enough money from a summer job to live on campus for one year. Then, if you work hard and put your name in, you might become a Resident Assistant and earn free housing for the following year. It's a plan! Another plan is to go abroad for a semester or year. If this seems too expensive, then ask Dr. Digby about Long Island University opportunities such as the Friends World Program with semesters in England, Costa Rica, Japan, India, and Jerusalem; the Seamester, aboard a sailing ship, or the National Collegiate Honors Council semesters coming up at the United Nations (2001) and Korea (Spring 2002).

I've got to get out of this team/club/relationship!

Each one of these situations is about a commitment that has become oppressive. They are all very similar, and they all require the similar steps of detachment. First you need to understand why you want to get away. They take up too much time; they involve you in people who are not right for you; you have changed and you are no longer interested; other things interest you more; you are not doing as well in this commitment as you had anticipated. Understand the reason, and then tell the truth--first to yourself, then to the other person or people who are involved. It is better to cut with a team/club/relationship that is not working out than to stay with it and resent the time, energy and unhappiness that is the result of staying.

If a cut will mean a cut in scholarship, discuss it with Financial Aid or with your Academic Advisor, or with Dr. Digby, who will attempt to help you replace the loss.

If a cut is with a boyfriend/girlfriend or simply a friend--be as kind as you can, but be firm, and try to adjust your next semester's schedule so that you are not in the same classes or dormitory. People change and so will you. Don't feel guilty about an escape when it helps you mature and define yourself.

I've got to get out of Honors!

Feeling stressed because you are afraid of your grades? Worried about your Tutorial or Thesis? This is normal. You can alleviate much or your worry by talking to Dr. Digby and getting some help in making realistic plans to find the right mentor and accomplish the work. If your scholarship (US, AEA, TEA, Post Outstanding Essay Contest) requires that you participate in Honors, you will lose your major scholarship as well as any Honors Program/Merit Fellowship scholarship if you do not show signs of completing the program. In most cases, students overcome their anxiety and complete the program with fine results. Don't just run away, seek advice early and earn the Honors diploma that you know you can achieve.

I've got to get out of C. W. Post!

Let's be fair. Not every student chooses the college or program that is the right match. Students do leave Post for some very good reasons. It may not have the program or major that the student finally chooses. It may be too close to home and the student wants to go further afield. It may be too expensive. You may be having personal problems that are getting in the way of your grades. Whatever the reason, leaving is a serious choice and needs to be undertaken with care.

If the problem is a temporary one--such as money problems, health problems, family problems and the like--what you really need is an official Leave of Absence. This will allow you to return at a later date, most often with the scholarships that you had earned on entrance to Post. You can get a Leave of Absence from the Dean of your college. Be sure to have a duplicate of that letter sent to the Honors Program and placed in your file. It is always best to discuss your plan with Dr. Digby before taking any action. There may, indeed, be other solutions to your problem.

If you really want to transfer, then you should. But first, visit the college or university in which you intend to enroll. Be certain that enough of your work at Post will be accepted to make transfer worthwhile. Since college students do move around, there is no stigma attached to transferring, and you are welcome to ask your professors or the Honors Director for a letter of recommendation. But remember, when you enter a new school, you need to begin all over with the process of building friendships and learning the ropes. If you are already at the end of your sophomore year, it might be advisable to complete the degree at Post and use other methods of offsetting your complaints or disappointments.

Again, you can easily get away from Post for a semester or a year by going to the Brooklyn Campus, by taking a study abroad option, by using the PEP program to get an internship, by working for a year and taking time off.

I've got to get out of Long Island--NY--America!

It's the old story. Join the Navy and see the world. It's a noble ambition and college students have many more opportunities than simply joining the Navy. There are hundreds of Study Abroad Programs. Long Island University has an entire division, The Friends World Program that sends students to campuses around the world. Because it is Long Island University, all your scholarships stay in place, and you can also earn up to 6 credits of Honors Advanced Electives in a 16 credit semester. Campuses are in England, Costa Rica, Japan, India, Jerusalem. Ask Dr. Digby for details.

The Honors Program has sponsored trips in the past to Kenya and France and is planning a winter break trip to East Africa. Many other brochures about study abroad for the summer and for academic semesters come into the Honors Office. Ask about them and about plans that you would like to construct for a plan of your own. Every fall the National Collegiate Honors Council has an annual meeting in a variety of cities.  Students who wish to participate in the conference can be sent by the Honors Program with most expenses paid.

Or just travel! You have friends. Start with small plans for a weekend or spring break, and then build up to a major summer trip around America or abroad. Travel will change your perspective on life, and it may even help you find a major or a career. If you are taking a foreign language, ask your professor to suggest some suitable trips. If you are engaged in international studies, business, scientific research, ask about summer internships in a different institution, city or country. They exist, and you should try to find them.

So, no matter which here you mean, don't just run away. The answer to your problem might also be here, and in the end you might be happier staying. Many people might be able to give you sound advice. Try them all. Here's a list to get you started:

  • Honors Program Director
  • Your Academic Advisor
  • A faculty member you trust
  • Your College 101 teacher or peer counselor
  • A counselor in the Student Health Service. They have long experience with student problems and may understand your situation very well.
  • Your RA in the dorm
  • Your parents or spouse
  • A campus chaplain or your own spiritual advisor or therapist
  • Your friends