Stress Rises Among First-Year Students

January 28th, 2011 by Hal Grossman

Photo: Anna Gutermuth

A new national survey of incoming college students shows rising levels of stress and a decline in perceived emotional well-being. “The American Freshman: National Norms Fall 2010,” released on January 26, surveyed 200,000 students. The survey shows a rise in the percentage of students who rate themselves as below average in emotional health, and a decline from 55.3 percent in 2009 to 51.9 percent in 2010 in students who described themselves as in the top ten percent or above average in emotional health. The survey was conducted by the Higher Education Research Institute at the School of Education and Information Sciences at the University of California at Los Angeles. In the first such survey, conducted in 1985, 63.6 percent of new students rated their emotional health as above average. The trend has been down since then, but 2010 showed a more rapid decline than usual.

You can read the New York Times report of the survey here and download the Higher Education Research Institute summary here.

Are you stressed about college? Without a doubt, it’s not easy to do high-quality academic work while juggling life’s other responsibilities and preparing yourself for life after college. Here are some suggestions that may help:

  • If you don’t understand an assignment, ask your professor. It’s better to ask questions up-front than to risk writing a paper that goes off on the wrong track and gets marked down. You may feel your questions are stupid, but to your professor they’ll just show that you care about doing well in the course.
  • If you’re confused about how to do academic writing or how to put a paper together, drop by the Hunter Reading/Writing Center. There are tutors who can go over your first draft with you and workshops on effective writing.
  • If you feel you need personal counseling, contact the Office of Counseling Services. They can help with stress, depression, or personal crises. It’s confidential and free.
  • For help in choosing a major or planning your course selections, try the Office of Advising Services. They have both appointments and walk-in hours.
  • When you’re looking for information for a paper, take advantage of the librarians. They are experts at finding out what information is out there and helping you turn an idea into a topic that will work. If you’re drowning in a sea of information, a librarian can help you learn to swim. Asking a few questions of a librarian can save time and cut down on stress.
  • Find a subject to study that you love. The job market may be tight, but you will always do better if you’re in a field that really excites you, rather than one that you chose because of money or prestige. Make your time at college your chance to find that career path.
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3 Responses to “Stress Rises Among First-Year Students”

  1. Anna Gutermuth Says:

    Hi, I would appreciate it if your article would please directly link back to my photo. Thanks!

  2. Hal Grossman Says:


  3. Matt Says:

    I have read your blog for serveral times now and I thought I will leava a comment.
    As I am graduating student my self at the moment, your article have gave me some importan information. Thanks ! =)

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