A recently released survey titled, “American Freshman: National Norms Fall 2010” revealed that the number of college freshmen rating themselves as having “below average” emotional health has increased significantly. The emotional health has touched its lowest in the last 25 years.
The first year of college always has some level of increased stress associated with it, but the present economic scenario is making it tougher for the students.
The stress on students
Stress caused by the educational loans and the present economic scenario is taking its toll on the students.
Rick Hanson, director of student counselling in RockHurst University, said, “In the last couple of years of the recession, students’ parents are more stressed, and the natural idealism and optimism has been eroded."
Lauren Sanders, a freshman from Rockhurst agreed that the new students are feeling stressed, especially those who don’t know how to cope with it.
Reasons behind stress
The report titled, “The American Freshman" from UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute stated that the foundation of this stress is laid down in senior years of high school and the present economy also plays a role in aggravating this stress.
The report recorded a rise in the number of students who said that they were “overwhelmed by all I had to do” in last year of high school, which required the students to balance studies, extracurricular activities and college admissions also.
Regarding high school seniors, David Burke, director of college counselling at Pembroke Hill, said, "They are not naive. They hear and see what’s going on in this economy. They see parents losing jobs.... May be they have older siblings who graduated from college in the last year or two who haven’t found jobs they consider appropriate.”
Then there is the stress of choosing an affordable institute and that too being away from home for the first time.
Stress taking its toll
This stress is visibly taking its toll on the emotional health of the college freshmen.
While the percentage of students who felt that their emotional health is "below average” rose to the highest levels in the last 25 years, the percentage of those students who felt that their emotional health was "above average” fell from 64 percent in 1985 to 52 percent at present.
College counsellors agreed that the results of the survey are being witnessed by them in their offices every day.
Kelly Jeffries, freshman at Missouri State University said that she felt the stress of finding “something to do to make money in the future.”
She said that she visited her home much more than she should to deal with this stress. Coping mechanism included a lot of partying on the weekends by the students.
A lot of other students are finding solace in alcohol, ULCA report said.