Stress in College: More Than What We Bargained For

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Do we even know what stress is?

Of course we know what stress is! Its that horrible last minute no-time-for-anything, finals week feeling. Oh but thats not all, with every college acceptance and financial aid check, students accept a very generous load of stress provided by university life and adult responsibilities. As defined by the medical dictionary, “Stress is defined as an organism’s total response to environmental demands or pressures.” This is a very general statement in regards to the abilities of stress which will be covered in an upcoming post.

The average college student has multiple factors that determine the amount of stress they experience. Factors may include but are not limited to: school, work, relationships (family and friends), finances, and post-graduation plans.

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School Stress

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At the beginning of every semester, I along with most other students, have the renewed goal to read every assigned reading, not procrastinate on assignments, study in advance for tests and finals, and make good grades in every class. Then suddenly, the second week of school hits and all dreams go out the window for that semester. School is a continuous spectrum of stress that only diminishes when we graduate, that is unless you are continuing on to graduate school. As a veteran college student, it is a well known fact that finals week is when the stress reaches an all time high. Stressed out student becomes the norm on campuses, so much so that by personal experience, I have seen monsters and redbulls handed out in front of the university library before finals week. Any outsider would think it was a time honored tradition to consume copious amounts of caffeine and pour over notes and laptops for days as a celebratory farewell to the semester.

Work Stress

Work and School go hand in hand as a college student. If one doesn’t work, than it is expected that you are probably still freeloading from your parents to pay for things. On the other hand, if a student is working, it can be assumed that they probably work long hours in order to pay for things like rent, food, gas, car payments, different insurances, textbooks, the list could be a bit lengthy. As a student with two part time jobs and a full course schedule, I know personally that there are not enough hours in the week to successfully balance sleep, work, school, and a social life without feeling the effects of stress creeping in in some way.

Relationship Stress

Maintaining relationships aren’t the only things that require commitments, but they do require regular maintenance and time. The only difference between commitments the relationships versus work and school is self motivation. Some may be thinking that you need self motivation to do school assignments and go to work, but for those factors, we also have consequences that motivat us. If work is skipped, then you get repremanded or fired. If school is slacking, you get bad grades, a lowered GPA, or dropped scholarships. However, the only consequence in maintaining relationships is that individuals disappearance from your life, and depending upon how much you may care, that may have no effect on you at all. Self motivation is what drives students to maintain relationships, however, depending on how much stress that creates, social interactions may be significantly lower in terms daily time dedicated. This may be the answer to why Netflix is a college students best friend.

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Financial Stress

It is no secret that university tuition rates are sky high. Due to the bad economy, and several other factors, student debt after graduating college puts graduates at a disadvantage right of the bat. According to a New York Times article, “About two-thirds of bachelor’s degree recipients borrow

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money to attend college, either from the government or private lenders, according to a Department of Education survey of 2007–8 graduates.” With most middle class incomes, assuming the standard two parent working median wages scenario, college is still unaffordable, even with the help of some financial aid and scholarships. Graduating with an ungodly amount of debt that will take years to recover from is a high stress factor for college students.

Post Graduation Stress

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Young adult college students constantly hear about the lack of opportunity that will be available in the job market after graduation. They hear that jobs in any specific major that isnt business, health, or engineering just isnt worth getting a degree in because there are no jobs out there. Additionally, if you want to have a pumped up resume before graduating, you must complete internships and work experiences. Might I add however that these internships are most likely unpaid and will take time away from work you could be doing that could pay for your bills. Life is a great balancing act and college is the greatest show of them all.

Works Cited:

Martin, Andrew, and Andrew Lehren. “A Generation Hobbled by the Soaring Cost of College.” New York Times 12 May 2012. Web. 10 Feb. 2015. <>.

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