Stress and its effects on College students
According to Fogle (2012), while the majority of students view stress as a negative factor, a small percentage of college students holds that a small manageable quantity of stress is an important motivating factor.
Stress can be defined as the response of the human body to the magnitude of pressure to which it is exposed. This response involves a shift in the body’s hormonal makeup and results in the expression of certain physical symptoms that characterise it (Pfeiffer, 2001). Some of the symptoms of stress are headaches, low self-esteem, poor speech and the development of moods. However, the magnitude of pressure relates to an individual’s predisposition in determining their susceptibility to stress. This understanding therefore, presents that some people may be more sensitive to stress causing factors than others. Hence, the level and experience of stress varies between individuals (Pfeiffer, 2001). Also, the age and level of maturity have a role to play in the experience of stress for different individuals. This hypothesis is seconded by Trombitas (2012), whose research discovered first-year students experience more financial stress as compared to their continuing comrades while the fifth years expressed more stress due to general issues. This increased level of stress on the first and fifth year students was hypothesised as being caused by, being away from home for the first time, the slow job market, increased costs of education and loss of employment by a family member (Pfeiffer, 2001; Trombitas, 2012).
In the case of college students, the pressure that results in the stressful response is often quite heavy, often resulting in the negative response. Therefore, despite the insignificant cases of stress as a positive aspect, stress is most commonly of negative impact on the lives of the college students. Whereas there are multiple factors that lead to the development of this response, two of these factors stand out. These are financial causes of stress and academic causes of stress.
The arena of finance has over the years gained ground as one of the most potent sources of stress for students in college. According to Trombitas (2012), this aspect has the highest rating in the development of stress for college student. The severity in the magnitude of this stressor has its roots in the increasing financial requirement that the modern student faces. Currently, students have to grapple with tuition fee, daily expense, the requirement to reimburse student loans and some cases, the burden of the bread winner’s role (Trombitas, 2012). According to (Pfeiffer, 2001), as a substantial number of college students have to either work while in college or through their college lives. This requirement has an undeniable significance in influencing their academic as well as social lives, as the time spent soliciting for the funds they need encroaches into their primary objective of education and the secondary requirement of socialisation. This sentiment is echoed by (Trombitas, 2012), who argues that the higher the number of hours of work, the more severe the effect of this stress is on the student’s education.
In the analysis of financial stress, there are five specific issues involved that have a varying magnitude of impact, these five are: the requirement for student loan reimbursement, increasing education costs, obtain student loans and the need for either full or part-time after learning hours. Of these five, the repayment of student loans ranks highest in the financial stressors lists, followed by the remaining three in descending order as listed above (Trombitas, 2012).
The second most common and significant stressor for college students is academic pressure. This requirement for academic excellence has been observed as an important cause of stress for college students as well as students in the lower levels of study. Despite the possibility of manageable stress being a positive factor for the preparation for examinations, the most common aspect is the negative effect of high pressure to excel. This fear of failure is driven mostly by environmental conditions, which have acceptance attached to the student’s academic ability. On the other hand, pressure for academic success may be derived from family and demographic issues that make failure in one’s academics equal to failure in life. Such situations lead to undesirable levels of tension, resulting in stress and its resultant effects (Pfeiffer, 2001).
As briefly mentioned in the opening remarks on academic life, test anxiety or the need to pass exams is one of the leading causes of academic stress. As a source of stress, test anxiety results from either past failure, the notions of being compared to considerably better colleagues and the pressure to master a vast collection of course material. These situations result in a loss of confidence, ensuring the worst possible outcome for the student or students venerable to them (Pfeiffer, 2001). Still on the issues of academic pressure as a stressor, the magnitude of academic work that the student is expected to complete in short time periods is another factor. In addition to the quantity of academic work, the level of difficulty in the course work and the requirement to take on extra course also act as sources of stress. For both full and part-time students, the effects of stress are similar (Pfeiffer, 2001; Trombitas, 2012).
In the case of financial stress, the first financial impact is the development of debt for the students in question. Due to the low levels of employment, student loans become an attractive source of financial relief for such individual. As a result, most college students get into debt years before they are eligible to even earn their first pay check. According to Trombitas (2012), the student loans in America total up to almost 1 trillion as per the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. This accruing of debt by unemployed individuals’ results in a second financial effect with is loan reimbursement evasion and defaulting. Due to their incapacity to address their loan requirements, most opt to evade or ignore the loans resulting in the ballooning of the same due to the interests charged (Trombitas, 2012). Besides finance, the students have a social as well as a personal life that is affected by these sources of stress.
Academically and financially caused stress both affect the individual’s social life negatively. Due to the requirement for extra hours to address the growing financial needs and the excessive curriculum expectations, students often sacrifice their social life (Pfeiffer, 2001; Trombitas, 2012). A midlife crisis is often expressed as the result of such a decision. In addition to social life, these sources of stress lead to the development of poor heath, for example, mental issues as well as poor personal health habits, for instance, sleep deprivation (Fogle, 2012).
In conclusion, while the causes of stress may be many and the predisposition of individuals variable, academic and financial causes of stress are within the reach of learning and financial institutions to address. This intervention would have a significant impact on addressing the mental issues reported by a majority of students who fall victim to stress (Trombitas, 2012).
Fogle, G. (2012). Stress and Health in College Students (pp. 1-44). Columbus, Ohio: The Ohio State University.
Pfeiffer, D. (2001). ACADEMIC AND ENVIRONMENTAL STRESS AMONG UNDERGRADUATE AND GRADUATE COLLEGE STUDENTS: A LITERATURE REVIEW (pp. 1-29). Menomonie, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin-Stout.
Trombitas, K. (2012). Financial Stress: An Everyday Reality for College Students (pp. 1-12). Lincoln, NE: Inceptia.