College and Stress


Stress is a normal part of life, especially during periods of transition and uncertainty. But the transition to college can be stressful for a host of reasons. The American College Health Association National College Health Assessment shows stress, more than physical illness, lack of sleep or concern for friend or family, is the single biggest hindrance to academic performance at college.

Sometimes parents and other adults tend to idealize their college experience and remember it as an idyllic time when they had few worries or responsibilities. But today’s college students face a barrage of pressures: greater academic demands, exposure to new people and temptations, the prospect of life after college, and more. Parents should recognize that, while a certain level of stress is healthy and can be motivating, excessive stress can cause real problems.

Common College Student Stressors:

  • Continual and mounting academic demands
  • Trying to make friends
  • Being on one’s own in a new environment
  • Relationship issues, including dating and changes in family relationships
  • Financial responsibilities
  • Exposure to new people, ideas, and temptations
  • Awareness of one’s sexual identity and orientation

Motivating or Limiting?
Fortunately, the majority of stress your child will experience will be helpful and stimulating. Experts agree that, if balanced correctly, stress can be a positive element that increases our self-awareness and productivity. While some sources of stress cannot be avoided, others can be prevented or diminished. Discuss with your child how to tell the difference so that unnecessary stressors can be minimized.

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