LEAD: College students throughout the country are facing the highest levels of stress in recent years. Western New England University’s Sophie Cannon explains.
College stress is when teachers assign two projects and three exams in a two-day span, on top of the other courses.
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That was Ross Titelbaum, self-proclaimed stressed out college student. The American College Health Association reports 30 percent of college students’ academic performance was negatively affected by stress. More than 85 percent report feeling overwhelmed by deadlines to get things done. Wayne Carpenter is Director of Counseling Services at Western New England University.
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We can look at just the way children are- have been raised differently than perhaps a generation, or two, ago. There is a lot more high stakes, uh, pressures on students with high stakes testing. I think if you look at childhood itself, its more organized than, I think, it used to be a few generations ago. So you’ve got, you know, you’re on a little soccer teams, you’re on the baseball teams, you’re on the football teams, the hockey teams. Then you get to a certain level where, you know, it may seem important to be on the elite teams and the travel teams, uh, the different club teams because, I think, parents look at that and say, you know, if you go to this level its gonna get you to the next level further down the road.
Childhood experiences are only one element associated with college stress. Factors such as overstimulation and increased information processing are connected to an increased use of social media. Irregular sleep patterns and unorganized schedules also spark stress.
When you put it all together, uh, I think it’s a much more pressured environment for students. The other factors are probably social-political, or even geopolitical. Well I mean this generation now is coming up under the umbrella of 9/11, of terrorist attacks around the world, there is a certain element of fear perhaps underling that I’m sure that doesn’t go unnoticed at some level in kids as there growing up. I think the economy has families stressed, has had families stressed with meeting financial obligations…. Taken all together, you know, there’s background kinda stress.
Coping with and managing stress are often individualized, but Carpenter says there are a few proven tricks.
Meditation, exercise – we know that exercise, in fact this is demonstrated in the research, exercise is in it of itself is a wonderful stress reliever. Um, and can help maintain, manage it better. Taking time for yourself. Putting the phone away, shutting down the computer, um, taking a walk in the woods. Getting back into nature is very restorative- there’s something very deep within us that connects with nature.
The Center for Collegiate Mental Health reports stress trends continue to increase for college students. In a two-year timespan the number of college students hospitalized for mental health concerns has grown nearly 3 percent and the number of students contemplating suicide rose five percent in two years. To help – more colleges are offering additional services to help their students deal with feeling overwhelmed and underprepared when it comes to balancing time with an ever increasing to-do list. Reporting from Western New England University for WAMC, I’m Sophie Cannon.