Students and Stress

By Kerbi Rucker

In 2017, the average college graduate was expected to have $38,000 in debt post-graduation (Debt.org, 2018). That is a pretty large number and something to be significantly stressed about, but student loan debt is probably just an added item to the list of worries.

College students have been the subject of many jokes for decades, whether it is the amount of stress we’re under or the amount of money we don’t have in our bank accounts. It seems as though we’re an easy target. Luckily, college students are able to be the brunt of these jokes and the ones to bring the joke about, but this may be something to be concerned about.

Along with having to discover our identities and who we want to be in life, which is challenging enough, college students have to balance their school work, social lives, and jobs. Not only that, they’re expected it do it almost perfectly. There is little to no room to make mistakes because not only does it disappoint those around you (family and friends), you could be ruining your own future. This creates an enormous amount of pressure that some may consider dangerous.

The stress and pressure has begun to affect students’ mental health. Now, some may claim that college has always been stressful and millions of people have gone through it and succeeded – this is true. Students are graduating from college at increasing numbers every year and becoming successful members of society, but does this mean we don’t address the problem?

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Just from my own personal account, people around me are always at high stress levels. I’ve witnessed students in the Tate Student Center crying over class work and test grades. I don’t just mean a few tears, but full mental breakdowns with uncontrollable tears. You can even witness this it on Twitter. Students mention having extreme anxiety, the desire to drop out, and even examples of PTSD.

College can be traumatic in many ways. The constant worry about grades, due dates, and class time can leave a dark cloud following you even when class is not in session. College students (myself included) have said that they have the feeling that something is due or that they have work to do even after finals have been completed. While this may be funny or insignificant to some, this is something that I believe we should be worried about.

Who is to blame for all this stress and turmoil? Do we blame the universities and professors for expecting too much from their students? Do we blame parents for not preparing their children for the experience of college? Do we blame the students for being weak? I think it can be a combination of both. The real question is how can we fix it?

I think we have to start with society and what they expect from people as a whole. Education, job, house, spouse, children all by 30 seems to be what the goal and expectation is. People frown upon on those who “get a late start” and wait until 35 to get married or decide to live with their parents after graduation – meaning we have to have it all and have it all fast. College is challenging, and I’m not suggesting that it shouldn’t. I do think It is important that we do recognize what we are putting our students through and how this may affect them mentally.

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