by Kevin Yuan

Stress is simply a fact of nature, forces from inside or outside the world affecting an individual. The individual responds to stress in ways that affect not only the person himself but also the world around him. Because of the large amount of stress in our modern lives, we usually think of stress as a negative experience. This phenomenon is accompanied especially with students starting out in college, whether it is social stress, academic stress or other stresses. Studies done by several entities such as ABC news, The Bullet, and several college campuses have revealed a possible new phenomenon revealing that the Class of 2014 are more stressed than older peers. According to a survey conducted by the University of California, Los Angeles reported that “this year’s freshman class rated themselves as having the lowest emotional health in the past 25 years.” The survey included the responses of over 200,000 incoming freshman at four-year universities. Tevya Zukor, director of Counseling and Psychological Services at the University of Mary Washington, states herself that “the research being conducted on college and stress does tend to indicate that students are entering college with greater levels of stress…” Noting the clear rise in stress levels of those entering college, we must explore the facets contributing to this phenomenon.

The two most common stresses encountered by college student include academic stress and social stress. Obviously, the workload of college is exponentially more involved than that in high school and it comes with less help and hand-holding from parents and teachers. With challenging classes, scheduling events and issues to handle, and the necessity for a more independent nature of the learning, college requires entering students to adjust in an ephemeral amount of time. Coupled with the academic stress encountered by an entering college student, stresses involved with leaving one’s support structure, creating a new network of friends and dealing with being away from home make adjusting to the college life quite difficult.

The facets mentioned thus far explore the typical stresses an entering college student faces upon attending school but linked with these common stresses include the weak economy and the limited market of jobs for college graduates. Because of the bad economy, students are indirectly affected by its negative percussions. Professor Steven Greenlaw of the economics department at the University of Mary Washington reports that he has “students whose parents have been laid off because of the recession… they have serious problems going to school and staying in school.” Because of this, more and more college students are holding temporary jobs now in order to pay tuition and survive financially while in school. Many students share the same concern as Romen Borsellino, a junior at Amherst College in Massachusetts who claims that ‘I am torn in three different directions…I have to do something to make money, got to build a resume and find something I like to do. That alone is terrifying, especially during a busy school year.’ Many college students also say that pressure rises significantly after freshman year as they move closer to graduation in which they must eventually seek jobs in a weak economy. 

The decrease in job opportunities and the deflating economy has undoubtly affected entering college students in a significant way. Not only do entering college students have to worry about academics and social aspects of college but they have to worry about finding a job in the next four year.