College Students Are More Stressed Than Ever Before
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Health and Wellness

College Students Are More Stressed Than Ever Before

No wonder we are all so excited for summer...

College Students Are More Stressed Than Ever Before

Streamlined career programs, a dynamic social atmosphere, and lofty employer expectations all contribute to higher stress than ever before in college students.

The first purpose of the creation of higher education was to develop a space for those who wanted to further their knowledge past basic “need-to-knows” and learn more about the world, and consequently themselves. Ironically the Latin term universitas can be translated to community or corporation, which is appropriate considering how colleges deal with their students like clients in a business.

AP Classes became common in the 1980s, allowing students to earn college credits in high school. “School work, college applications, extracurricular activities, and parental expectations all contribute to teenagers’ stress,” says Noelle Leonard, PhD, a senior research scientist at New York University College of Nursing. Because high school is the preparation for college for more than twenty million students in the United States, high levels of stress start in high school.

“There is a greater expectation that they need to succeed and do extremely well from the get-go at the same time they are dealing with the regular transitional issues,” said Dr. Gina Fleming medical director of the University of California student health insurance program. Which is a justified concern, since employers have higher expectations than ever for job-seeking college graduates. “My generation, who grew up in the ‘60s and went to work in the ‘70s, we laugh because I feel like so little was expected of us. We had a year or two to prove ourselves,” says Candice Carpenter Olson, the cofounder of Fullbridge. The domino effect of wanting to get a job after graduation falls onto doing well in college, which falls onto doing well in high school to get into college. Which all creates stress and the want to enter college and be efficient as possible.

High school seniors are entering college with higher stress levels than ever before, and are spending less and less time socializing with their friends. Social media has been described as being more connected overall but not being deeply and fully engaged by academics and philosophers that study the relatively new social media phenomenon. Students are spending less time with their friends, and first-year college students' senses of emotional well-being are at an all time low, according to a survey done by UCLA's Higher Education Research Institute.

Although caring for the mental health of an entire student body can be a difficult and expensive task, it should actually be in the best interest of the university. “…Investing in mental health services for college students can help keep [students] from dropping out. That's good news for schools since they want to retain tuition revenue,” says University of Michigan economist Daniel Eisenberg. At some universities counselors use these precious university statistics, like how depression in students is linked to lower retention rates, to bargain for more funding.

However, despite the condition of mental states and stress levels in millennial age college students, polls say that they think it's all worth it. 88 percent of Millennial college graduates say that college has or will eventually pay off in the end according to a Pew Research poll. However, the number of graduates that think so did decrease slightly from the Gen X and Boomer generations according to the same poll, which could speak to the different perspectives of college that differs from generation to generation.

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