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In the year 2000, the December issue of the American Psychological Association's Journal of Personality and Social Psychology released a meta-analytic study in which they compared the anxiety levels in thousands of children to modern day college students. The findings, as a result, showed that anxiety has become so imminent these days that, “typical schoolchildren during the 1980s reported more anxiety than child psychiatric patients did during the 1950s.” If this is the stress that mere children felt in the 1980s, imagine the anxiety and stress that college and high school students are feeling today.
Anxiety is more often than not caused by stress, and students in the 21st century have plenty to be stressed about. Even if it may be a seemingly irrelevant problem, the human body is unable to distinguish between bigger and more stressful situations versus smaller ones. Any form of stress can be overwhelming, especially if you don’t know how to handle it. These days it’s difficult to find the resources or help that you need, and as a result of that, it’s rare that a student is able to find a healthy way to cope with stress.
There are multiple things that may cause overwhelming stress in a student—the number one thing, of course, being schoolwork. There is so much pressure put on students these days, specifically with school, and that kind of pressure can be overwhelming, especially if you already have a hard time learning. The pressure comes from parents, teachers, guidance counselors, colleges, and the future itself. It’s a scary thing, especially when you’re still trying to figure out exactly what you want to do in life. The last thing that you need, on top of everything else, is the pressure to succeed.
The lack of money also plays a big part in stress, especially in college students. College students have to worry about student loans, tuition, work, finding and maintaining a job, and so much more. The transfer from high school to college comes as a big shock because most high school students are not prepared for the real world. Because of this, it becomes difficult to adapt to balancing work and study at the same time, therefore, making it even harder to make money and earn a living.
Another factor that may cause stress is a student’s social life. In college when you are so occupied with a variety of other things, it’s nearly impossible to spend any time at all with your friends and family. Being isolated like this only worsens the stress and anxiety levels in a student as they then have no support system or any type of healthy way to relieve their stress. Although it is true that people need people, students often find that their loved ones are no longer a priority to them compared to their work and future careers. This is unhealthy and benefits no one in the end.
The balance of all three above factors—schoolwork, jobs, and social life—can become a burden so heavy on a student’s shoulders that it will ultimately crush them in the end. Perhaps this is why so many students have been dropping out, ending up homeless, or even worse, taking their own lives. Stress may seem like a small, normal thing at first, but it can easily build up to the point that you can no longer find any time to take a breath—and even if you do, you feel that you’re wasting time by doing so.
Students deserve to have breaks more often to relieve stress. Teachers and the educational system should help students to achieve their very best, not diminish their mental health. Maybe then there would be less anxiety and depression in modern day students. Maybe then furthering our educational careers wouldn’t feel like such a burden.