College is a stressful time for anyone. It can be argued that life itself is stressful when leaving high school, but for those who choose to enroll in higher education it becomes even more so for many reasons. The average college student will become stressed at least a few times during their tenure within any given institution. Life outside of high school for many individuals is far harder than it ever seemed while still living under their parents’ roof. Stress is a natural byproduct of the college experience.
Much of the stress that is present during college is common knowledge, though a good deal of it becomes exaggerated and blown out of proportion for those who have yet to experience such a venue. Movies, television shows, and even the words of friends and family that have been through the college experience often tend to paint vivid pictures in the minds of future students. For many that picture ranges from viewing college as a place that is either made for hard work and great sacrifice to a place of non-stop partying and debauchery that is borderline illegal in many ways. Whatever the idea placed into the minds of aspiring students, the truth about college is that it is more akin to a meat grinder for those who seek to gain something from the time spent. If one is not prepared they will either gain nothing or be overwhelmed by the journey towards a higher education.
Homework, tests, and hours of study that are required in some cases to even pass a course
are among the most obvious stressors. A great deal of time is required for any dedicated student
to perform to their potential, which means sacrificing at times to insure that such time is allotted
for needed studies. Finals, mid-terms only add to this level of stress, and can cause many people
to become overworked and even “freaked out” to such a degree that they cease to function for
periods of time. The average workload of a successful student is often enough to short out
anyone’s cerebellum for a time, which would explain dropout and failure rates in some cases.
Relationships are yet another stressor that is difficult to remove within the college experience, as even during this time students are still in a period of development. Too many individuals have experienced the transition between high school and college believing that their current relationships will hold firm only to watch them crumble. College is a period of great change, and the facets of one’s old life do not always fit into the same prioritized compartments that become important during the switch. While some relationships do survive, they are the exception, not the rule.
A rather big stressor for any college student is the difficulty in prioritizing and managing their time. In college it is rare for a professor to take enough interest in a student to keep them in line and on task. Where a teacher in high school might see it as their job to continually remind a student to hand in their work, or to study, or to do any number of school-related functions, college professors are not paid to do this. They are paid to teach classes, hand out tests, and grade said homework and exams. They are not there to keep the students on task, as that is the students’ responsibility. Managing classes and keeping everything in a neat and tidy manner is the responsibility of the student and no one else (Kokemuller, 2016).
Being away from home can be a major stressor as well, as the unfamiliar room, the unknown campus, and even a lack of friends can alienate most people. Adding to that the need to keep a tight hold on available resources and funds only places another stressor upon the mind of any college student as they must find a way to manage and prioritize not only their study time, but their life. In college the act of growing up becomes a necessity rather than a luxury, and the student must take such lessons to heart quickly if they are to survive in such an academic environment.
Thankfully most colleges in the modern age are equipped with methods and trained professionals that can help a new student better acclimate to the experience. Counselors, support groups, and even social groups have been set into place for years now to welcome and insure the integration of new students. Going to a new college in new town or city can be a daunting prospect for anyone (Reifman, 2011), and most institutions realize this fact and have planned accordingly. Entering a new school is a large step in the next phase of an individual’s life, and is better served if that individual is guided and helped to fit in along the way.
There are even actual courses that can be taken to affect stress management and further help the individual with their continued acclimation to their surroundings. With such measures put into place the stress of college still does not fully dissipate, but it is made manageable in a way that is both safe and capable of seeing that the individual is cared for as needed. Finding ways to manage the stress is one of the sole reasons that anyone ever gets out of college in one piece any longer, as the workload continues to increase and the issues that new students carry with them into college continue to expand and worsen in some cases. In offering a wide range of support groups and courses that inform students on how to reduce stress and find their preferred method to get by (White, 2016), colleges have become a much safer and more student-friendly environment rather than a harsh and unforgiving academic maze.
To summarize, college is by far a stressful time for most individuals in one way or another. While some individuals find their own methods to handle that stress, others often need a helping hand or support to keep their minds on their studies and the real reason they enrolled. Too many people nationwide have dropped out of college simply because they were stressed out and unable to cope. Despite being a natural occurrence within the college experience, stress is manageable in most cases, and can be alleviated in many ways.
Kokemuller, N. (2016). What Are The Reasons Why College Life Can Be Stressful? Seattlepi.
Reifman, A. PhD. (2011). Stress in College Students. Psychology Today. Retrieved from
White, M.G., M.A. (2016). Stress Causes of College Students. Lovetoknow. Retrieved from