College students’ emotional health dropped to record low levels in 2010, said researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles.
UCLA’s annual survey of the nation’s college freshman said just over half of the students – 51.9 percent – reported their emotional health as above average. That’s a drop of 3.4 percentage points from last year. And it’s an 11.7 percent drop since 1985, when 63.6 percent considered themselves as being in the “highest 10 percent” or “above average” for emotional health.
The study, called “The American Freshman: National Norms,” is longest running survey of its kind. It is based on the responses of 201,818 full-time freshmen at 279 of America’s baccalaureate colleges and universities. According to a Jan. 26 UCLA press release (Download PDF of press release):
Female students were far less likely to report high levels of emotional health than male students (45.9 percent versus 59.1 percent), a 13.2 percentage-point difference. Women were also more than twice as likely as men to feel frequently “overwhelmed by all I had to do” as high-school seniors.
While students’ perceived emotional health took a downturn, their drive to achieve and their academic abilities are trending upward. More students than ever before (71.2 percent) rated their academic abilities as “above average” or in the “highest 10 percent,” and 75.8 percent rated their drive to achieve in the same terms.
Often considered positive traits, high levels of drive to achieve and academic ability could also contribute to students’ feelings of stress, said John H. Pryor, lead author of the report and director of CIRP.
“Stress is a major concern when dealing with college students,” he said. “If students are arriving in college already overwhelmed and with lower reserves of emotional health, faculty, deans and administrators should expect to see more consequences of stress, such as higher levels of poor judgment around time management, alcohol consumption and academic motivation.”
What do you think? Is it true students are more stressed out? If so, why? And what can students do to relieve their stress?