College freshman face new freedom and risks

- On a sweltering August afternoon, the new men of Morehouse, about 750 of them, are moving into the dorms, most stepping out on their own for the first time. 18-year old Chicago native Jarrett Gilbert is looking forward to the feeling of independence.

"Just the freedom, I guess," Gilbert says.

And 18-year old Malik Kennedy, in Atlanta from Toronto on a basketball scholarship, was drawn to Morehouse's history.

"What made me come here was the brotherhood, in particular, being a Morehouse man," Kennedy smiles.

Adjusting to college life can be challenging. 

An estimated 10 percent to 20 percent of U.S. college students suffer from a mental health condition like depression or anxiety.

In a 2016 survey, more than half of students surveyed reported hopeless during the past year, and nearly 40 percent reported feeling so depressed it was hard to function at times.

College is also a time students experiment with alcohol and drugs, which could impair their decision making when it comes to sex.

Kennedy and Gilbert say their parents both had the "you're-on-your-own-now" talk with them.

"Just knowing and understanding of you do something, wrong there are consequences," Gilbert says. "So, that travels with me wherever I go, to know, if I do something wrong, there are consequences afterward."

Morehouse College's Associate Dean of Students Kevin Booker says the school offers counseling, support, and wellness programs for new students, focusing on topics like sexual misconduct prevention, drug and alcohol use, and financial literacy.

"I think any parent that is allowing their son or daughter to go away for the first time, those are among the concerns," Booker says.

Jarrett Gilbert's mother, Joy Thompson, a police officer, says she trusts his judgement.

She's hoping, if anything, college will draw him out.

"I think me being a police officer is part of the reason he is the way he is now, not wanting to go out," Thompson says. "Because I was so afraid to let him go out in the city of Chicago."

Jarrett Gilbert has grown up hearing about Morehouse Men.

Now that he is one, he can't wait to see how the college will change him.

"I just want to see, with still being true to myself, how it transforms my personality," Gilbert says.

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