Study shows economy is affecting students’ stress level


Photo illustration by Jessica Yanesh.

Bre Vozar

A national study of more than 200,000 first-time college freshmen reported record-low states of emotional health because of stress.

Marci Herr, freshman nursing major, said she is one of the many freshmen who has to deal with first-time college pressures and she isn’t surprised by the survey results.

“I wasn’t expecting college to be as difficult as it already is,” Herr said. “Between extra- curricular activities and 17 credits, I just have a lot on my plate.”

In the annual survey, “The American Freshman: National Norms 2010,” studies show that only 52 percent of students rated their emotional health as above average. This is the lowest results have dropped in the past 25 years.

John Schell, senior psychologist at University Health Services, said in an e-mail interview there has been a lot of data that clearly indicates college students today have greater pressures to be successful because of the economy.

“Many students have to work more hours in order to pay for school, and when their prospects for employment following graduation have been affected by the weak economy, becoming successful can be difficult,” Schell said.

Schell recommended that students seek mental health services if they are finding it hard to manage their stress level because if left unchecked, stress can lead to anxiety, depression and other mental health concerns.

Jessica Balcerzak, freshman fashion merchandising major, said she can easily see why stress levels are so high amongst freshmen, especially with today’s economy.

“Being a freshman during the downfall of our economy caused stress because not only were we worried about ourselves, but about our family’s financial situation as well,” Balcerzak said.

Seniors are feeling the stress of the economy too.

“Most of the stress is probably due to the current economy,” said Garett Kaple, senior aeronautics major. “With so many college grads, and few jobs available, the economy puts more pressure on incoming freshmen to do well all four years, or in my case all five years.”

Schell said the first step to de-stressing is acknowledging that you are stressed.

“Students should be aware of the stressors their experiencing and find healthy ways to manage their stress level,” he said. He added that maintaining a healthy diet, regular sleep and exercise schedule are all good ways to manage stress.

“Most importantly, from a psychological standpoint, students need to find a way to decrease the amount of pressure they put on themselves, so that it does not reach an unhealthy level,” he said.

Contact Bre Vozar at [email protected].