Stress is a factor that most college students can’t avoid. It comes in many forms that can make a student lose focus on their education. Stress is not easy to deal with especially if a person does not have the resources or know how to manage it. It is important to know that doing simple things such as going to the gym or walking around the neighborhood can distract the mind from what is going on in the human brain. Stress is “a negative psychological and physiological condition that derives from a combination of forces internal and external to the individual that tax a person’s coping ability” (Smollan, 2015). So, if an individual takes the initiative to try to make a change in their lifestyles to decrease stress in the lives, it will help the physiological condition to be lessen and be more capable to cope with it. Therefore, there are many causes that lead students especially in college to stress about. At times, they acknowledge what might be causing the stress and ways that might help them prevent it. However, students try not to worry about things that are due yet and leave several big projects at the end. This leads for schoolwork to increase and then the stress starts to accumulate.
College students are the main ones that deal with stress throughout most of their career. At times, some students need to balance work, family, school at the same time, which it is stressing for some individuals. Also, other individuals that may have stress while not in school would be the ones in the workforce. According to Steiber and Pichler (2015), research illustrates “the prevalence of work stress and exhaustion is quite high in most countries under investigation”. So, the stress that people have while working at times it can’t be prevented. Yet, college students are the ones that impose stress upon themselves. They could try to prevent getting stress, yet they leave things last minute known as procrastination, “… an impediment to academic success because it decreases the quality and quantity of learning while increasing the severity of stress and negative outcomes in students’ lives” (as cited in Hen & Goroshit, 2014, p. 116). Procrastination does not just increase stress in students, but it affects the way one is learning. It brings students down by bringing negatives thoughts relating to the stress they put themselves into. Students do acknowledge that procrastination is more than just leaving things last minute because “one works better under pressure”. Procrastination decreases the ability to learn new stuff and how much students can retain from a lecture while being stressed. Yet, it is more than procrastination which is why students are staying behind in their studies when they get stress. Students are feeling pressure by “family, friends, and teachers which was sole significant protective factor for high stress tolerance (Bland, Melton, Welle, ; Candidate, 2012). Even though students that they have all the support and motivation by their family, friends, and teachers, they do not want to let anyone down. They are being overwhelmed by so many factors that they not know who they should please first. Stress starts accumulating and they try to find ways to deal with them such as by having “cleaned apartment, called a friend, prayed, used internet social networks, called mom, shopped, ate, and used substances” (Bland, Melton, Welle, ; Candidate, 2012). However, some of the options given in the study are not always the correct way to go, such as using substances to release stress. This is an option that should not be consider because drugs tend to have after effects that may increase the stress a student might have before the used of the substances. Therefore, it is important to know how to deal with stress when an individual is overwhelmed with school. There is an “increased levels of stress that were associated with lower ratings on items related to the lifestyle domains of psychological health and physical health and exercise” (Bland, Melton, Bigham, Welle, 2014)
Physical exercise is important when coming to college for many students. Students come to college caring more about their physical experience and how people are going to like them. Transitioning from high school to college is not an easy thing to do especially if an individual is attached to their parents and they might be scared of doing things by themselves. Self-esteem comes with individuals thinking what they can do and what attributes they brought to college. Hubbs et. al (2012) study found a correlation between “… stress and self-esteem were significantly correlated for the total group and were significantly correlated among the groups of men and women”. It showed how both men and women stress about their self-esteem that they can provide which will eventually be distinguish by others. Rational choice theory is being implemented by the individuals that are trying to choose their actions which in this case is bettering their self-esteem. This does not only help them gain more benefits than cost by proofing themselves worthy, but also helps bring their stress lower when they do not have to worry about their self-esteem constantly. This helps the individuals make a rational choice in what their actions should be, so other’s do not look down on them. The choices they take to bring their self-esteem does not only control the outcomes of it, but also takes control of the stress that comes with it. This connects back to physical exercise because they become aware of looks and what someone might be looking for. Yet, physical exercise should be an option that help students with stress rather than giving them stress. Exercise should be a form on how students should be able to take their stress away, it was “… found that students in a study who engaged in vigorous exercise, stretching, and resistance training were significantly more likely to have high stress tolerance than those who did not” (Bland, Melton, Bigham, & Welle, 2014). Therefore, students should take the opportunity to exercise, so their stress does not accumulate with time especially because most tuition fees include access to the campus gym for free.
Also, another form of stress that is seen in college students would be grades and how they are going to be achieving the desired ones. Students try their best to get the grades that will let them graduate and have a high GPA (grade point average). So, “when a student feels that he or she cannot improve his or her future performance, then he or she is likely to experience stress, motivational deficits, and attenuated performance” (Struthers, Perry, & Menec, 2000). Also, structural functionalism theory is involved in the education of a student. The college sets norms and rules that the students must abide by for them to graduate. For example, some norms and rules they need to maintain is a high GPA, so they can stay in school as well as getting good grades in all classes to be able to graduate on time and be able to apply to graduate school. The norms and rules can cause stress in a student because while maintaining grades they have to lookout for their own self and other priorities they might have too. Therefore, “academic stress threatens students’ course grade, the value of doing well becomes more salient”, that is why students need to be more self-sufficient and be able to identify stressors that may be eliminated (Struthers et al., 2000). Students need to gain the ability to prioritize the factors that may lessen their stress while they are in school. This will help them to not to stress over grades when they do not procrastinate. They need to find ways to be able to release stress such as exercising, making schedules to study, have time management between school and personal life, etc.
So, the purpose of this paper is to be able to identify main stressors that college students must deal with, what causes students to stress more about and why do they not try to avoid it. The research question will be explored by explaining some common themes on how grades, GPA, physical exercise and studying may be involved with a college student’s stress. This will help recognize some factors on how college students try to manage stress, or what adds on their stress while being a student and having other responsibilities they have. This might help to understand some perspective from a college student’s personally and what is going on with their life in this qualitative study.
In the study that was made, the students that were picked were acquaintances from school or work. They were asked if they wanted to do a survey about their stress in college. It was decided to collect five girls and five guys that were in college which all of them identify as Hispanic. The survey was estimated to take approximately 10 to 15 minutes, if the participants wanted to go in depth with their answers. It did not matter if they went California State University, Northridge, they just had to be enroll in something higher than high school. It is important to acknowledge that the sample population when randomly chosen, no bias was included in the process. They were given a survey that was qualitative meaning that they had to write down explanation in why they chose that answer. They were not given any question leading to True or False. The questions were randomly selected for the research, no inputs were given from outside sources. The questions were chosen by factors that most college students might relate to when being stressed. Students were given a week and a half to be able to answer the survey and return it promptly to the collector. When the results were collected, some answers were short, therefore it was possible to adjoin responses to just 2 options in some questions because of the similar responses. For the survey, some questions were not as important to the research as it thought it would be. There was no stress affiliated with some questions, so it was eliminated for purpose of shortening the results and making it more efficient to the research. They were given no rewards for the survey, there was only a response after the end of the survey stating that their responses will stay anonymous since the survey did not ask for names.
The results show that most students are more stress about their grades. 80% of the participants stated that they think they could have better grades. The most common theme among why do not get the GPA they want is because of either not making time to study or they work. However, 80% percent of the participants have a job which is more than 50% of the participants. Yet, only 50% of the data shows that GPA causes stress among the participants as shown in a question pulled from the survey:
Does it give you stress not having the GPA you want? Explain why, if yes or no.
1. No, because i believe it is sufficient for Grad school
2. Yes, because in order to transfer I need to meet a certain GPA and it stresses me out that I do not have that GPA
4. Yes, because you need a good gpa for grad school
5. No, I don’t feel stress. I could achieve a higher gpa but as long as I mange to pass my classes and actually gain knowledge in the class vs being worried about my gpa thats all that matters to me
6. Yes, because it could have an impact on wether I can get a job or not.
7. YES, need a higher GPA to get looked at by other schools
9. No, because I know I am trying and it is the best I can do
10. yes, because i know the reasons why my GPA is not in the 4.0s
Answers were not modified for correct spelling.
6 out of 10 participants GPA range from 3.0-4.0 while 4 out of 10 were in the 2.0-3.0 GPA category, which signifies that students in the survey got mostly good grades that implies that they have had college under control. Also, helps to identify the class standing of the participants: 60% are seniors, 30% juniors, and 10% sophomore. Students were asked if they give themselves time to study before a test, 50% responded yes, 30% with no, and 20% were unclear responses. Based on these two responses, it analyzed that GPA is a factor among these students on why they might be stressing in school. These last questions lead to the response on students answering if they do last minute studying showing that 60% do, 20% do not, and 20% were unclear answers. Some of the common themes of the explanations that were acquired from this question was that they have other work to do, they remember more when the information is fresh, and procrastination.
In the physical section, repetitive answers that were stated when asked what kind of physical exercise they do which it would be cardio and strength training, So, when asked if they feel stress when they do not exercise 50% agreed, 40% disagree, and 10% is unclear. The common concept when explaining if they stress when they do not do physical exercise is because It helped students taken stress away when they exercise as well they enjoy doing to stay healthy, which it gave them stress when they did not do physical exercise.
As the results show, participants in the study mostly are getting stressed out by small things that some participants have control of such as making time for studying excluding those that work a full time rather than a part-time job. Yet, most of the participants have a job which means that a few do not know how to manage their time effectively. The participants show how if one wants a better GPA one must work for it. Nothing comes easy to a student especially if one has to balance many other things too. Managing time is not easy especially if one does not know how to control it which might to lead to attaining more stress. Students may see it easy to just say that they would rather have a better GPA because it will help them in the long run. Yet, they are not taking the correct steps to be able to achieve their desire grades. As in the results, it shows that 60% of students do last minute studying known as procrastination, which may lead them to stress when finals are coming or a big test that make up for a big percentage of their grade. This percentage shows that even though students wants higher GPA, they are still procrastinating with their work. However, in order for them to achieve better grades, they need to start bettering their time management which will lead to not to procrastinate as much. It is understandable that being a student and working at the same time is hard to handle. Students are balancing two things which is more than what they did back in high school. Most of these students work to be able to support themselves while attending college. It is a stressor for them more now because their grades depend if they graduate or not. So, students new to find ways to manage time or ways to distress themselves. They need to research other ways to deal with stress that is more accessible to them such as meditating, taking a walk, talking to a friend, etc. Students need to inform themselves of what their campus can offer when they are dealing with stress. Colleges tend to provide a wide variety of options when trying to help students to deal with stress. For example, some campus has counseling, areas where students can nap, do yoga, meditate, exercising classes, and other things. Students need to learn what is available for them and for free. These options can do more than just exercising which some students cannot do at times because its time consuming.
Some criteria that can be changeable in the study would be to make one-to-one interviews. It might help to get more in-depth answers than a survey. Be able to get more students that are freshman and compare them to seniors on what might bring stress among both class standings. Try to make more questions on the type work and the environment they are working with. Also, determine if the students are first generation because it might help to study what type of determination they have to get motivated to do well in school. Lastly, be able to ask participants if the stress they feel can be comparable to their high school career when they were applying to other schools. This means that their GPA have to be in good standing to even apply, because some schools have some certain criteria they want students to have when applying to their school. This compares to college GPA because some students need a good GPA to apply to graduate school and have good grades through their schooling.