Study Shows Freshmen are Stressed to the Max
There are 70-plus pages of bio, a party going on next door, and four missed calls from your mom. All of these may contribute to the rise of college students with below average emotional health. Fairfield’s students aren’t immune.
“Each year, the number of students seeking counseling increases,” said Susan Birge, director of counseling services at Fairfield University.
A survey mentioned in a recent New York Times article, “Record Level Stress Found in College Freshman,” brings to light the issue of college freshman being more stressed than ever. This survey is just one indicator that the monumental stress students are feeling is on the rise.
Tommy Gill ‘14 agreed with the study. “I am so stressed. I have so much work combined with my job and volunteer work. I get little sleep,” he said.
He isn’t alone. According to the article the majority of college freshman do feel extremely stressed, and each year the numbers continue to increase. The article also mentions that, in addition to feeling stressed, students often carry other problems with them to college that only intensify. Depression and anxiety a re among the most popular of these.
It is more than just the workload that is affecting the overall well+being of freshman in colleges across the country. Brian Van Brunt, director of counseling at Western Kentucky University and president of the American College Counseling Association was also quoted in the article adding that a lot of the stress and pressure students are feeling to succeed has to do with the economy.
“Today’s economic factors are putting a lot of extra stress on college students,” he said.
Not only are students concerned with paying for their education and paying off loans after graduation, but also students wonder if there will be a job for them when the time comes to face the real world.
According to Birge, students aren’t just worried about classes and maintaining a high GPA anymore. They come to counseling services at Fairfield to seek help for a number of different issues. Birge listed anxiety, depression, relationship issues, family problems, sexual orientation, grief, and substance abuse as the most prevalent student concerns.
There is also the situation when students feel alone. “There’s a lot of pressure to put on a perfect face, and people often think they’re the only ones having trouble,” says Dr. Mark Reed, a psychiatrist who is also the director of counseling at Dartmouth College and had commented on the article.
This can often be why students are afraid to get help. However, more students are speaking up. “They are more willing to get help and utilize the resources available to them,” adds Birge.
And while it is true that more women than men seek help from counseling services, the New York Times article says that the gender gap is decreasing.
Birge pointed out, “more young women come to counseling, the number of young men using the services continues to increase.”
It isn’t unusual for men to act nonchalant about their stress levels but one way to see proof that the gap is narrowing as to women being more stressed than men is by simple acknowledgement. Alex Goulden ’14 acknowledged it and said, “Yes there is pressure.”
There is also the aspect of how students feel treated by their professors connecting to their emotional well-being. Students who feel they are mistreated and/or disrespected by their professors seem to have more stress.
“First semester teachers went easy because we were new, now there’s more pressure,” said Becky Norris ’14. According to the article, unresolved issues between teacher and student definitely have a negative impact on the mental well being of the student.
When asked what advice she prefers to give to students having a hard time, Birge said, “Fairfield University has wonderful resources and services for students. Use them. Ask for help.”