Santa Clarita native creates college prep book

Casey Rowley Barneson with her book “The College Wellness Guide: A Student's Guide to Managing Mental, Physical, and Social Health on Campus." Courtesy
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As a college counselor, Casey Rowley Barneson saw firsthand the difficulties and stresses high school students face as they prepare for college applications.

“I’ve seen students anxiety rise and how they cope with the demand of these super academic schedules, and I just really started noticing that a lot of kids were putting their mental health on the backburner, sacrificing that to get into a ‘good college,’” Barneson said. “The burnout with students can be so high.”

Several studies in recent years have documented increasing levels of stress, anxiety and mental illness among college students, with a survey by Boston University of nearly 33,000 college students across the country revealing the prevalence of depression and anxiety in young people continues to increase. 

More than half of students in fall 2020 screened positive for depression and/or anxiety, 39% and 34% respectively, per the survey.

That’s why Barneson wrote “The College Wellness Guide: A Student’s Guide to Managing Mental, Physical, and Social Health on Campus,” a book published through Princeton Review designed to help students succeed in what may be the most important challenge during their transformative college years.

After Barneson graduated from Valencia High School, she went on to work at the school as a college counselor.

She’s now had a more than eight-year career advising students about college admission and attendance as well as career development.

In that time, Barneson discovered that it’d almost become what she described as a “backwards process,” where students’ goal was to get in to college, rather than get through college.

“Once you’re there, you still have four years to manage and to get through, so really this book was born out of the idea of wanting students to be able not only to get into college, but also thrive once they’re there,” she added.

Created to help students take care of their health, the book is full of advice for students on managing mental, physical and social health, with self-assessment activities, checklists, tips and resource recommendations.

“It starts off with student assessments … and right away, they get a sense of which chapters are going to be helpful for them that they can prioritize,” Barneson said. “It’ll point them to different chapters, and then throughout the chapters, there’s activities.”

Barneson’s goal is for the book to allow students to not just go to school, but also be able to build a healthy lifestyle that’s going to be sustainable once they get to college and afterward once they graduate.

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