Can you relate to late-nights, studying, research papers, timed assignments, maintaining a good GPA, midterms and even finals? The average college student myself included, can relate. Semester after semester we have to remember to bring our umbrellas during the never-ending rainstorm of stress. Stress is a serious problem that affects 8 out of 10 college students which can potentially lead to academic failure. The National College Health Assessment reported 34% of students rated stress as the number one factor affecting their individual academic performance (Borrayo et al. 246-260). Students continue to struggle academically due to stressors, but by bringing awareness to this issue we can lower the statistics and help our future generation students to avoid, manage, and reduce stress.
To begin, let’s briefly discuss the causes of stress during college in order to address this issue. Stress in college is an emotional or mental state that students experience during their studies. Stress can be associated with exams, time pressure, grades, GPA and many other stressors. While stress can be caused by a wide range of factors, the two most common are time management and academic workload. For example, a study conducted at James Madison University concluded with academic workload ranked at 88% most stressful and time management ranked at 83%, being the second most stressful factor. (Britz and Pappas). With many factors causing stress, finding the right approach to avoid, manage, and reduce stress is important.
First and foremost, the most effective way to avoid stress is by bringing awareness to the issue. Students need to be aware of how common stress is in college. Schools can bring awareness to students by creating a course on academic stress that is credited. The course can be similar to a workshop but instead the students who enroll earn credits that count towards elective credits.
Making the course an elective is universal for students who need elective credits for their prerequisites.
The course can’t be a cliché lecture because who likes a professor non-stop talking their ear off, but instead a kinesthetic type of learning environment. This will make students want to learn more about stress and how to avoid it. Another way to avoid stress is through support systems. Counseling centers need to be more involved with their students. Students are given the option to reach out to a counselor during a time of need but realistically not many students think stress is serious enough to seek help because stress is seen as a normal part of college. Counselors need to reach out more to their students by requiring students to meet with them at least once a month. Similar to a therapy session, students will talk about their academic problems where the counselor gives solutions to help the students resolve their problems. Even if the counselors can’t resolve problems, having someone to vent to can really help. The Indian Journal of Health & Wellbeing says counseling enables students to perceive reality accurately and to accept this reality in order to achieve academic goals (Bhjade 748-751). In other words, counseling centers can help students achieve academic goals. By achieving academic goals students can avoid less stress.
However, not always can we avoid the inevitable. Stress can’t always be avoided but with three simple guidelines, stress can be managed. First, colleges need to occasionally assess students to understand the severity of the problem. By conducting studies regularly on campus, the accurate number of students suffering from stress will be determined making stress easier to monitor. Second, professors and mentors need to value their position. Many professors are only in the classroom for a paycheck and just don’t care. It is important that the staff at colleges value their jobs and report any signs of stress. This will help counselors to manage a student’s stress individually. Lastly, colleges can manage stress by reducing the amount of caffeine drinks served in cafeterias and vending machines because caffeine elevates cortisol (the hormone associated with stress response) levels. The Food and Drug Administration says up to 80% of adults consume caffeine every day (Patel). For all the caffeine drinkers in college that consume caffeine regularly to get them through the day, hear me out. Caffeine is like a drug that is available everywhere. While caffeine is used to stay awake, alert, and to keep up with academic demands, you are seriously putting a drug into your body. Ohio State University conducted a study on 25 participants of regular and light users of caffeine. The participants consumed caffeine and placebo (sugar pills) but the caffeine users showed an increase in cortisol when compared to the placebo users. The University concluded that caffeine may increase your stress level whether you use caffeine regularly or sporadically. Caffeine on campuses needs to be limited to students to help manage stress.
Moreover, when the right approach is taken towards managing stress, it becomes easier to reduce. One of the most beneficial ways to reduce stress is by having puppy rooms in colleges. Imagine a room full of the cutest fur balls wagging their tails at the sight of you. Dogs are already popular visitors in hospitals and have shown to reduce stress. Animalstart.org says petting animals can increase levels of the stress-reducing hormone oxytocin and decrease production of the stress hormone cortisol (“Dogs help humans reduce stress”). Many colleges have already taken action against stress by implementing puppy rooms. They’ve set up puppy rooms for students to de-stress with therapeutic puppies in a safe environment. Some colleges offer puppy rooms all year long and others team up with organizations during the most stressful time in a semester, finals. The University of California Berkeley is one of the many schools that participate in sessions with therapeutic dogs. The University set up its Pet Hugs program partnered with the Animal Rescue Foundation to bring therapy dogs on campus once a month. The program has shown positive results as they’ve heard comments like “I’ve been so stressed out. I feel a lot better now (“Pet Hugs”).” With finals right around the corner, I’d love to have a dose of dog. Puppy rooms are an interesting, cost-effective method to help students reduce stress. The biggest cost is time. If colleges take the time to find volunteers willing to bring these friendly companions in during finals, I guarantee stress levels amongst the students will decrease as this method hasn’t failed all the campuses who have already set up puppy rooms. In addition to puppy rooms, students can reduce stress by exercising. Exercise is one of the most recommended methods to reduce stress by health care professionals. When stress affects the brain, the rest of the body feels the impact as well so when your body feels better, so does your mind. Colleges can help students reduce stress by opening a gym that can be accessed by any student with an I.D number. A free, easy accessed gym may encourage students to workout. All the while, both methods may be helpful to students looking to reduce stress.
Conclusively, 8 out of 10 college students are affected by stress. Stress is a serious problem when 34% of college students rated stress as the number one factor affecting their individual academic performance. Too many students are already affected by stress and if left unrecognized our future generation of college students can fall a victim to this problem as well. Overall, stressors need to be avoided as much as possible. Sometimes it is difficult not to be affected by stress so setting guidelines and meeting those guidelines can help manage stress. By managing stress, we can reduce the levels of stress thus reducing the number of people affected by stress.
Amparo, Arianne. “Managing Stress during College Application Season.” FastWeb, 25 Aug. 2016, https://www.fastweb.com/student-life/articles/managing-stress-during-college-application-season. This source was used for one of the pictures in my essay.
Bhujade, Mahadeorao. “Depression, anxiety and academic stress among college students: A brief review.” Indian Journal of Health & Wellbeing, vol.8, no.7, 2017, pp.748-751. This article briefly describes the research carried out in the last three decades regarding stress, anxiety, and depression. The article focuses on stress among college students. I used this article for the authors ideas on counseling centers in college.
Borrayo, Jenifer., et al. “The Impact of Perceived Stress and Psychological Factors on Missed Class and Work in College Students.” Journal of college counseling, vol.19 no.3, Oct. 2016, pp.246-260. 15p. This article discusses stress in college students. This article discusses statistics on stress among college students. I used this article for the statistics I mention in my essay. This source is reliable because it is an academic journal.
Britz, Jacqueline and Pappas, Eric. “Sources and Outlets of Stress among University Students: Correlations between Stress and Unhealthy Habits.” Undergraduate Research Journal for the Human Sciences, vol. 9. https://www.kon.org/urc/v9/britz.html. Accessed 14 May 2018. This article discusses a study conducted by undergraduates at James Madison University. The study conducted was on the factors contributing to stress among college students. I used this study in my essay as an example of the most common types of factors that make college students stressed. I also used the picture of the graph showing these results.
Chan, Melissa. “Puppies ease finals stress at Queens College.” 18 Dec. 2013, http://qns.com/story/2013/12/18/puppies-ease-finals-stress-at-queens-college/. This source was used for one of the pictures in my essay.
“Dogs help humans reduce stress.” AnimalSmart.org http://animalsmart.org/species/dogs/dogs-help-reduce-stress. Accessed 18 May 2018. This source is a website on facts about animals. This website goes into detail about how dogs help humans reduce stress. I’m using this website to explain how dogs can be used as a method to relieve stress. AnimalSmart.org is reliable because it is the website for The American Society of Animal Science non-profit organization.
Manoj, Mishra. “Stress in Students.” Maps of India, 29 Nov. 2014, https://www.mapsofindia.com/my-india/education/is-exam-the-sole-factor-causing-stress-among-students-in-india/attachment/stress-in-students. This source was used for one of the pictures in my essay.
Patel, Ryan. “Study: Caffeine, Stress and Brain Functioning.” The Ohio State University, 19 Apr. 2017, https://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/2017/04/19/study-caffeine-stress-and-brain-function/. Accessed 17 May 2018. This article explains a study done by The Ohio State University on caffeine. The study shows that caffeine increases the stress hormone, cortisol in both light and heavy users. I am using this article as evidence that caffeine causes stress, therefore should be limited on college campuses to reduce stress. This source is reliable because the article was published by Ohio State University.
“Pet Hugs.” University Health Services, University of California, Berkeley. https://uhs.berkeley.edu/pethugs. This source is a website talking about the pet hugs foundation at the University of Berkeley in California. The foundation is a partnership between the university and the Animal Rescue Foundation that focuses on helping stressed college students by bringing therapeutic dogs on campus. I used the information from this website as evidence of how effective this method is to relieve stress for college students. This source is reliable because this is the official website for the University of Berkeley.
Shaffer, Suzanne. “FREE Webinar-Beating College Bound Stress.” Parenting for College, 26 Sep. 2011, http://www.parentscountdowntocollegecoach.com/2011/09/26/free-webinar-beating-college-bound-stress/. This source was used for one of the pictures in my essay.