Tuesday, May 20, 2014

College Students and Multiple Stress, by Stella Nathan

Consulting many different lists of top stressors for college students, and asking different sources, the results will be varied.  But finance always showed up somewhere on these lists and was always near the top.

Many college students are worried about debt and the cost of college. They are also worried about the job market. On BusinessTime’s list of top stressors for college students, four of the five stressors were related to money. Students needing to repay loans, the cost of education, borrowing money for college, and needing to find a job after college were the most stressful things.

Other lists said that roommate conflicts, relationships, time management, and family responsibilities were contributors. A UWL counsellor can attest to that: she says that students at UWL also stress over academics, depression, anxiety, family-related issues, other non-family relationship issues, or finances.  

A number of students on campus at the University of Wisconsin Lacrosse said that they felt pressure to succeed. Some said that they felt pressure from their parents to be perfect, and others said that they just put it on themselves to be perfect.

Jason Ebbeling, director of residential education at Southern Oregon University, says that “These days, students worry that even with a college degree they won’t find a job that pays more than minimum wage, so even at 15 or 16 they’re thinking they’ll need to get into an M.B.A. program or Ph.D. program.”

Freshmen in college and 5th year or beyond college students have the most stress, but for different reasons. 5th year students worry about increasing debt as they continue their education. Freshmen stress over their new-found responsibilities in college.

One thing not prevalent in the past that contributes to the stress levels in college students is the unemployment of their parents. Students have to take out more loans and get summer jobs to help pay for living with their parents or save up for college, as parents can no longer support them.

Some students are ok at handling stress, but other students find that stress triggers mental health problems, some that they were not aware they had. Stress is linked to depression and anxiety in college students. In young adults (18-33) stress levels are higher than the national average, according to USAtoday. 39 percent of young adults say that over the last year their stress levels have increased. 52 percent of young adults report having trouble falling asleep.  Depression and anxiety is the most common mental health problem.  In the last 10 years, counselling and health services at campuses have seen an exponential rise in the number of students who need help, according to Theglobalandmail.

A counsellor at UWL says that from her own personal experience she’d say that 30 percent of students are using the counselling and testing services. She also says that anxiety is the number one pressing concern for students at UWL and she thinks that it is the same for other campuses.

Asking students at the end of spring semester which is more stressful, their answer would probably be the spring semester because they are in the moment of the stress. The results might be different if asked during winter finals. In spring students are moving out, having to worry about living arrangements, graduation and summer jobs on top of their finals.  A junior biology major at UWL says that the end of the year is the most stressful time for him. He says, “I’m dying. I just want school to be over. In the winter session you’ve still got energy, you’ve only been here a couple months, and the weather is nice in September, usually until October. But it was a horrible winter when we came back from break and it’s still cold in May!”

Another student who is a Junior English major at UWL says that she prefers the spring semester because the end goal is summer, and that all she has to do is write papers instead of take a bunch of exams.

A student who is graduating from UWL on Sunday says he prefers the winter session. He wishes there were more weeks for him to get everything done, and that he is worried about his future after college.