Rising levels of stress among university students

by Treasure Kilali

A recent survey conducted by the Strada Education Network on 4,000 undergraduates revealed that heightened stress levels, anxiety, uncertainty, instability and self-doubt are recent common themes in the lives of University students since the global pandemic struck.

These reactions have been attributed to the shift in education and career plans that the virus forced resulting in new schedules, systems, a re-alignment of dreams and personal goals and anxiety; both about academic success, finding future employment and affording the expenses that come with being a student.

The survey was further expanded on by twin sisters, Livia Morris and Julia Morris, who through a qualitative study, was published on Medium, gathered detailed information about how students are faring emotionally and mentally. The study showed that a vast majority of the students were dealing with anxiety about increased unemployment, the recession and the potential loss of job opportunities and wages in their respective industries.

“The crushing uncertainty of the next few years — and the pressure to succeed in spite of it — can at times feel suffocating, and with no playbook to turn to, recent graduates and current students across the United States have been left feeling utterly disillusioned,” Livia Morris wrote in the article.

Of these respondents, forty-four percent of students named “stress, anxiety and loneliness” as their “biggest” challenge over other concerns, 22 percent said “keeping up academically” was their biggest challenge, and 14 percent said paying for tuition, books and “other costs” has been their primary challenge, the report said.

Stress is said to be an inevitable part of life however, studies show that extreme levels of stress can hinder world effectiveness and lead to poor academic performance, worse health outcomes and reduced quality of life.

The causes of stress popularly termed ‘stressors’ on students are attributed to five categories as academic stress, personal stress, future stress, family stress and financial stress. These stressors often lead to stress symptoms such as high levels of anxiety, difficulty making connections, constant headaches, over or under-eating, and feelings of depression amongst others.