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Causes of Stress on College Students and how to deal with it

Stress on College Students


It is un- debatable that most college students spend their time on campuses stressed out. Balancing between studies, CATs, assignments, work, finances, friends, girlfriends/boyfriends and examinations can be stressing for anyone especially because colleges have become more and more competitive and expensive. So what is stress really? Stress is a form of the body’s reaction to change. It is non- specific. It can also be defined as the unexpected response to unexpected events a fight or run sort of reaction. Any situation that an individual finds threatening, causes a lot of pressure or is difficult to cope with can be a potential cause of stress. Factors that cause stress are called stressors and can either be internal or external. Internal stressors are feelings that cause one to feel stressed such as imagination, thoughts memory, dietary needs, attitudes and feelings such as anger or fear while external stressors are factor in our environment that cause stress which may include major life changes like loss of a person or a home or loss of financial stability and pain from injury. This paper will focus on the causes and effects of stress on the college students and the economy.

In a study of lab rats reaction to stress Hans (1936) found that when exposed to a continuous environment with stressors such as loud noise, extreme physical activity, extreme heat or cold and blaring light, the lab rats were found to have physical conditions found in humans such as stroke, kidney disease, stomach ulcers and heart attacks. This goes to show that stress can be caused by many independent factors that may or may not be related. Anything can cause stress, like cancer, it has no definite source and can be caused by everything. It is induced by factors both general and specific. However, many specific causes can lead to undesirable stress levels. So what causes stress to college students? In his study of college students James (2003) found that the stress in college students is mainly caused by these factors:

First were the academic problems and time constraints. Academic problems: These problems mainly revolve around students feeling stressed about tests, CATs and assignments. Many high-grade point average students carry a heavy load of unhealthy stress. Many students are reporting feeling overworked, sleep deprived and stressed out. This is majorly because students have been cheating, pulling all- nighters to study, depressed and seeking drug use and self- mutilation just to cope (Jerusha et al., 2010). More than 70% of students, in the study by Jerusha et al., always feel stressed by their school work and 56% reported always feeling stressed about their grade, tests and college acceptance. College students expressed that school work related factors caused more stress that divorce, family problems and sibling illnesses.

Time constraint: Although students spend most of their time in school, they still have to spend more time while away from school to complete assignments and study. This causes friction between social time and study time leading to many students feeling they do not have enough time to study and still complete their assignments and huge projects. One student in the Jerusha study expresses that they are given large amounts of work that do not assist them to learn anything because of the rush to complete the tasks assigned to that that, the student thinks, are mundane. Most confessed to having copied assignments and cheated on exams due to these pressures although they had above average grades.

The last problem college student’s face is finances. Like all people college students too have financial needs. Between tuition fees, books, housing and commuting students do not have enough money and those supported by their parents feel they are not given enough money to just get by because colleges have become expensive. Students that are not supported by their parents have to find jobs to work in order to be able to pay for these necessities. This causes stress because it is hard to find good jobs without the necessary papers hence they settle for low paying jobs which pay them very little, sometimes too little to help them pay for their fees or other needs. Even those students who are lucky enough to get sufficient fund aid to cover immediate college expenses have financial stress of knowing they have to pay back the money once they get out of college and as it is finding jobs, a well- paying job for that matter is not easy (Mary, 2013). Students have reported parents losing jobs while they are still studying and they feel the need to cut on the hours so they can work to pay for their studies. Stress some financial has also been brought about by the students need to find a job after studying and the hard economic times in the world that have also trickled down to affect college students.

Although stress is a normal part of life and there is good and bad stress (Mary 2000).  Stress has major negative effects on an individual’s health. Stress in a college student can cause physical problems such as fatigue, headaches, stomach ulcers, lack of sleep, continuous tension and digestive problems. Other emotional problems brought by stress to an individual are extreme anger, depression, anxiety disorders, panic attacks and frustrations. These effects of stress may lead an individual to fail their exams due to lack of assignment completion reported by 53% of students who stated they were often too stressed to complete the assignments on time or end their life 17% of students reported a friend had talked about ending their life due to stress, 10% had attempted suicide and 7% had seriously considered ending their life as of 2008 (MTVu, 2009). Some stressors also affect the behavior of individual causing overreacting/ underreacting, anger outbursts, substance abuse and social withdrawal.

Another effect of stress on students is that most students are so stress that it causes students to lack time for friends and extra curricula activities which are important for young people to relieve stress and build other areas of their lives other than studies. Many students have reported either being too stressed or too busy completing assignments to talk or be with friends or go out others stated being too tired to be with friends. These stressors make students not to build on interpersonal relationships in their lives with will also be very important in their future lives.

How does student stress affect the economy? When schools release to the society overworked, depressed individuals with low energy levels they run the risk of having slow unmotivated workers who are equal to the elderly and not as productive as they should be and who are poor decision makers due to under/overreaction. The stress also causes students to cheat on their exams and copy assignments which cause  them to be workers who lack enough know how to work in the industrial areas they have been assigned leading to low productivity. Some college students who have taken up student loans to pay for their fees kill their fees commit suicide before they have repaid the loan leading to losses.

In conclusion therefore, Stress is an inescapable part of life that happens daily. A fair question would be what doesn’t cause stress? However, it is important to note that there is good stress that motivates you to achieve certain goals and there is the bad stress that can become chronic reducing the productivity of an individual and making them less active. These bad stressors are what have been highlighted in this essay. They should be prevented, to increase the productivity, energy levels and motivation of college students to learning, achieving good grades and scoring great jobs. Students should be encouraged to find stress relieving activities such as sports and movies that will help them deal with day to day stressors. Counseling should be offered to assist those with chronic stress to deal and cope with it and not end their lives or quit school.


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