College Transition Initiative

Welcome to the blog of the Center for Parent/Youth Understanding’s (CPYU) College Transition Initiative (CTI). This site contains commentary on transitional issues, exploring research, trends and college student culture. For more information visit:

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Location: Elizabethtown, PA, United States

The transition from high school to college is a difficult one, and yet, it is a transition that is often overlooked. This site is to help college bound students, parents, and youth workers stay up to date on the latest research and trends in regards to college transition. Your comments are greatly appreciated. Join the conversation!

Monday, January 02, 2006


Imagine being an 18 year old college freshman woman, with all of the uncertainties and pressures that this time in life brings, walking into a residence hall only to discover a poster of a gorgeous model with the caption: “Freshman Girls! Get ‘em while they’re skinny!” The poster makes me sick on so many levels and yet it doesn’t surprise me. There is much brokenness around issues of body image in our culture and within college student culture it is perhaps the most intense.

Trendcentral recently ran a piece discussing the need for “more realistic, positive body images in the media.” The short article included a testimony of sorts from a college student, explaining her experience. The student wrote:

“At college, all the girls eat together, and thus, exercise together. In cliques, we go to the gym, and I feel pressure to run faster and longer than my friend next to me. The girls here love to read gossip magazines (they all have subscriptions to Us and InTouch). They’ll flip the pages open to discuss who’s really pretty versus who’s just done up, who needs to gain weight versus who looks toned and fit, (I was shocked to hear Paris Hilton fits into the latter category.) There’s also a seemingly skewed perspective of what’s healthy. I offered my friend some apple juice at lunch and she refused, opting for Diet Coke, because it’s less caloric.”

You can read the rest of the short article here.

This reminded me of Brea’s comments in an article I wrote for CPYU last year on college transition. The article combined two interviews, one was with Eric Bierker of the College Transition Group and the other was with two college students, Brea and Mike, discussing Mr. Bierker’s research. During the conversation we discussed issues of personal identity and body image and Brea’s thoughts have always stuck with me. Brea said:

“It’s hard to feel beautiful when looking through fashion magazines. It is even harder at college. College is like walking through a fashion magazine 24/7. It’s difficult enough to stay on top of schoolwork, nevertheless to stay on top of what you look like in comparison to the hundreds of other young beautiful women walking around campus. It is the only time in life where you are surrounded by people your own age trying to look their best. It makes you question your own identity and self worth. It’s not easy.”

You can read the rest of the interview here.

My hope for this blog is that it starts conversation. So, here are a few questions for readers:

How have you seen students challenged in regards to body image and personal identity?

What is it about the college experience that makes this so prevalent?


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