How to Beat the Pressure and Depression of Attending School Virtually

How to Beat the Pressure and Depression of Attending School Virtually

This is the First Post in our New Series: Ask the Experts

Welcome to our new series where we’ll periodically reach out to mental health professionals, high school counselors, college financial advisors, college admissions experts, and career specialists to answer your most pressing (and anonymous) questions.

To submit a question please email it to: [email protected] and write “Ask the Experts” in the subject line.


From a member of our Paying for College 101 Facebook group (lightly edited for length and clarity):

What are you or your kids doing to beat the pressure and depression that is overwhelming them as they sit at a computer all day, every day, in the same spot with no peers for support? My son is also trying to adjust to a vigorous MIT workload as a remote freshman.

Carl Pickhardt, Ph.D 

Psychology Today Blog: Surviving Your Child’s Adolescence
There is no reason for MIT not to link you up with other remote students for social company and support. Ask them to do that.
Social isolation and protracted physical inactivity while coping with mental pressure can depress one’s spirits, so get company and get active.
In addition, ask yourself this question: “What are three things I would do to make myself happy if I were not feeling overwhelmed and depressed?” Then take time to do some of those.


Margaret Rutherford, Ph.D
Psychology Today
Wow – MIT! What an honor and how incredible that is for your son! It sounds as if you might have other children learning virtually as well in your home. So you mention several things that grab my attention. Let’s break them down.

1.    “All day every day…” I don’t think anyone could keep up a 24/7 work schedule. So, take study breaks and get outside. You’ll actually do better getting away from the material.

2.    “In the same spot…” It may be helpful to create a study area, so your mind settles down into it more readily. But make that space into your own. Make sure you have little stress relievers on hand -– like a bit of putty that you can roll around in your fingers. Have music on that you really like

3.   “No peers for support…” I’d imagine some of his friends are doing the same thing. And they can meet somewhere, even if they have to stand around in a circle in a parking lot and let off some steam. 

4.  “Vigorous MIT workload…” Perfectionistic people struggle to ask for help — and if he’s done well enough to enter MIT, I can only imagine how driven and intelligent he is. Have him Google the “Stanford Duck Syndrome” or “Penn Faces.” The students at those colleges have recognized the tendency to mask emotional struggles and are urging others to not try to look as if they’re breezing along, because doing so can be lonely and dangerous.


Melissa T. Shultz

Melissa T. Shultz is a writer, and the acquisitions editor for Jim Donovan Literary, an agency that represents book authors. She's written about health and parenting for The New York Times, The Washington Post, Newsweek, Reader's Digest, AARP’s The Girlfriend, AARP’s Disrupt Aging, Next Avenue, NBC’s and many other publications. Her memoir/self-help book From Mom to Me Again: How I Survived My First Empty-Nest Year and Reinvented the Rest of My Life was published by Sourcebooks in 2016.