Stressed Out

February 17th, 2011

Life is stressful, but that isn’t news to anyone. What may come as a surprise to some, however, is the record amount of stress experienced by college freshmen.

In late January, a study called “The American Freshman: National Norms Fall 2010” showed 52 percent of freshman students consider their emotional health as “above average.”

In 1985, the same survey showed  64 percent felt that way. In addition, the survey showed a large percentage of the 200,000 participants rated themselves as “below average” emotionally.

What could have caused this drop in emotional stability in college students?

A combination of factors ranging from economic, school-related and pre-existing medical conditions are to blame, according to the survey.

Students today are expected by economists to be less successful than their parents due to the economic realities of today’s world.

Pair that idea with the fact that more people are being prescribed anti-depressants than ever before,  and it helps explain the decrease in emotional stability of a large group of students.

Many counselors also attribute the slumping numbers to a world where the economy is putting enormous stress on students.

Many colleges, including John Carroll, are approaching the $40,000 threshold for tuition, which can lead to students feeling burdened by debt and large expectations.

When asked, some JCU freshmen agreed with the survey’s findings. “Just adjusting to school is stressful,” said freshman Julie Neiberding, “But classes can also be pretty stressful at times, too.”

Freshman Joe Saffell agreed.

“Finding a quiet place to study can make the workload even tougher,” he said.

For JCU students looking for ways to escape the stress, the University offers many outlets and ways for them to let off steam.

Classes like yoga, dance and cycling are offered, as well as open times to swim, play racquetball or basketball. For students looking for a quiet place to study, Grasselli Library offers quiet, one-person study rooms on each floor.

Others like freshman Joel Baker find that Greek life has helped to ease the daily tensions of college.

“Joining [the fraternity] Beta Theta Pi has helped me to get away from some of the stress sometimes,” said Baker. “It also gives you a support system to help through good times and bad.”

JCU currently has three fraternities and five sororities on campus.

Although the survey numbers may seem bleak, there is a silver lining.

While the 2010 survey showed the decrease in emotional health, it also signaled a rise in the drive to succeed and increase academic ability.

Essentially, the survey states that while students are stressing themselves to the limit, the day to day grind of college is bringing them success inside the classroom and out.

More than anything, it shows that stress, while usually unwelcome, is manageable and can be a motivating force.

For students looking for help dealing with stress or other problems, the University Counseling Center is located at 2567 South Belvoir Blvd. next to the tennis courts, and is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for appointments by calling (216) 397-4283.

The center is also available in urgent cases through Campus Safety Services at (216) 397-4600.