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Home Blog 18 Eye-Opening College Student Stress Statistics

18 Eye-Opening College Student Stress Statistics

by Ethan Michael Carter

No matter if it is chronic, acute, or episodic – stress can be an impeding factor when it comes to academic success. In other words, stressful events can undermine your chances of receiving the diploma you so desperately want. 

The thing is:

According to a wide array of college student stress statistics, students in the United States are under a lot of pressure. All the challenges, demands, and expectations are piled upon those young shoulders, and the tension can wear down even the strongest. 

Thus, it is imperative that campus presidents and counseling services invest more money and effort in alleviating stress and reducing the number of traumatic experiences for undergraduate and graduate students. 

With that being said, here are the most important statistics to show the rise of stress-related behavior in American students.

Facts and Stats on College Student Stress in the United States (Editor’s pick)

  • 20% of students report going through six or more stressful experiences in the past year.
  • 87% of students have experienced stress during their college years.
  • 45% of college students claim to go through “more than average stress.”
  • 63% of American college students report health-related issues as the main stressor.
  • Only 11% of students in the US sleep well.

College Stress Statistics for 2019

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1. 53% of students in the United States neglect their social life because of stress.

As we all know, stress is often the precursor of all sorts of mental health problems, including anxiety and depression. Well, alienation is an early manifestation of depression. 

So, that is why it is worrying that more than half of college students in the US refuse to hang out with friends due to stress. After all, college is supposed to be a fun and according to college student statistics–reduces mortality rates from certain diseases by 15-19%.

2. 45% of college students feel like they experience “more than average” stress.

Admittedly, the process of “measuring” and determining the levels of stress is personal and subjective. In other words, we all have different perceptions of stress and hardships. However, the American College Health Association has conducted a comprehensive survey of stress. And the results show almost half of the students in the United States are going through some kind of turmoil. With 45% of them experiencing “more than average stress,” it is easy to see that the latest college student stress statistics are alarming, to say the least. 

3. 20% of the student body report being stressed six or more times in the past year.

According to a recent survey conducted by scientists at Harvard University, almost a quarter of students have gone through a stressful event in the past 12 months.  In short, almost a quarter of students are battling stress every couple of months or so. This particular study on stress among college students has revealed some highly unsettling information about the mental and psychological health of college students. Needless to say, such a situation can cause setbacks in their academic progress as well as plenty of other mental issues. 

4. 10.3% of students thought about suicide in 2017.

Unfortunately, disrupted mental health in young adults can sometimes lead to fatal consequences. In fact, suicide is the second most common cause of death for college students, right after accidents. In the period between 2008 and 2017, stress levels have grown exponentially. Consequently, 47% more young adults were having thoughts about committing suicide.

The Main Reasons for the Rise of Stress in College Students Statistics

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5. 23% of students say exams and college coursework are the biggest sources of stress in their lives.

Once you enroll in a higher education institution, lots of coursework and homework will become the norm. Yet, not all students are capable of dealing with the immense pressure. As a matter of fact, nearly a third have said academic demands are the top stressors when it comes to being a college student. If we add parent expectations to the mix, it is easy to see how stressful college can be. 

6. 24% of students in the United States are stressing about their future and finding a job after graduation.

Even though the US economy is stable and experts are optimistic about the decline of unemployment, college students are worried about entering the job market. According to student stress statistics, a quarter of young adults at universities are concerned about graduation and their future jobs. Students fear not being able to land a job in their respective fields. Alternatively, they worry about not being able to support themselves or their families.

7. 68% of students in four-year colleges in the US live away from home, which triggers stress and trauma.

Separation anxiety is a well-documented phenomenon. After all, we all feel sad and nostalgic when we leave our family and friends behind. Of course, separation causes a spike in stress levels in college students. According to data from the American Association of Community Colleges, more than two-thirds of students move out of town to attend college. And this transition to a new environment can be a stressful experience. On top of the change in surroundings, young adults are going through a sensitive phase of their lives as it is. To clarify, their search for self-identity can cause mental health problems if traumatic events take place around the age of 20-25.

Financial Worries Are One of the Leading Causes of Stress among College Students

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8. 60% of college students worry about not having enough money to pay for their studies.

Recently, a national financial wellness study of 18.795 college students from 52 institutions across the US showed that two-thirds of college students stress about not having enough money to pay for their education. Likewise, almost half of students are worried about not being able to cover their monthly expenses. 

9. 70% of students stress about their financial situation.

In a way, we all worry about our financial wellbeing. Even so, it seems younger generations are also heavily affected by stress related to their financial situation. According to statistics on stress in college students, as many as 70% of college students are stressed and concerned about the state of their financial affairs. The study encompassed various profiles of students, including those at two-year and four-year private colleges as well as those at public institutions. 

The bottom line is: 

Seven out of ten under-graduate students experience stress because of their financial situation. 

10. 43% of undergraduate students take up jobs to put themselves through college.

As if demanding college coursework was not stressful enough, plenty of students in the United States have to work to support themselves through college. To be honest, working and going to classes is nothing new, and older generations have also had to balance these two things. However, stress among college students was never as widespread as it is today. On top of that, 27% of students had to work 20 or more hours per week. Clearly, this affects their schedule, reducing the available time for their academic pursuits. 

11. 25% of college students in the United States work full-time jobs while being full-time students.

Due to the rising costs of attending a college or a university, many students are forced to work full-time jobs while being enrolled as full-time students. To be precise, a quarter of them work at least 30 hours per week. On top of that, the majority of grad students (76%) have full-time jobs. And a lot of the mature students have children and families to support. It goes without saying that such a situation has a substantial effect on the rise of college student stress.  

12. 64% of students have turned to loans as a way of financing their studies.

Another element that adds to the overall feeling of stress and anxiety is the fact that more than half of college students are in debt. Needless to say, paying the installments in time causes pressure, harming the academic success of those students. To clarify, students use the money to fund tuition, housing, or even books and learning materials. 

13. 32% of students have said that they sometimes neglect their studies because of the money they owe.

The extent to which debt and financial uncertainty cause stress is astonishing. As a matter of fact, the total student loan debt in America is estimated at more than $1.5 trillion! According to data on stress in college students and statistics for 2018, the average student owed around $28.600. Of course, many students have much bigger debt than that. For example, those who owe between $100.000 and $150.000 face the highest risk of suffering from stress and anxiety. Thus, it is imperative that the government pay attention to this aspect of attending a college and getting a university degree. As we all know, the cost of going to college has been on the rise for the past thirty years, which affects dramatically the well-being of both parents and students.

Health-Related Issues Affecting Student Stress Statistics

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14. 30% of students have reported that physical ailments affected their grades.

63% of US adults say health-related problems are their number one cause of stress. Turns out the situation is similar when it comes to college students. To be precise, 30% have said that illnesses have affected their academic results. Quite simply, it can be hard to study and keep up with coursework when you are feeling under the weather. The range of illnesses includes fever, bronchitis, and even allergies. Either way, these issues have caused a considerable rise in stress in college student statistics for 2019

15. 40% of college students in the US report feeling well-rested for only two days a week on average.

It goes without saying that stress-related burnout can have a tremendous impact on academic performance. For that reason, the results of a recent study of American students’ sleeping habits are worrying and upsetting. Namely, less than half of students take enough rest, and they claim to be well-rested for only two days a week. In fact, on the topic of stress in college students, the article in question claims that only 11% of students sleep well at night. Without a doubt, such statistics paint a depressing picture of campus life.  

16. 50% of students wake up in the middle of the night to check their phones.

Whether we like it or not, today’s students are a smartphone generation, and these devices are an integral element of their social interactions. However, the lack of sleep caused by social media and other content leaves a footprint in college student stress statistics

As a matter of fact, one survey discovered that half of the college students in the United States are waking up during the night to send text messages. Of course, such actions affect their sleeping patterns, which causes stress and depression. Other studies have also established a correlation between the poor quality of sleep and mental health issues.

Other Common Sources of Negative Stress among College Students

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17. 28% of students report being victims of bullying in college.

In a way, we often mentally connect bullying with elementary or high school kids. However, college students can also be affected by this social problem. To be precise, more than a quarter of students have confessed to being victims of bullying. On top of that, the same study discovered that as many as 64.3% of students have witnessed bullying, in one form or the other. Needless to say, such events are traumatic, and they cause stress-related symptoms to appear sooner rather than later.  

18. 30.5% of college students claim intimate relationships cause them a lot of stress.

It should come as no surprise that one of the causes of stress in college students is related to romance and intimate relationships. Breakups can be a highly traumatic experience, and they can even leave a toll on one’s mental health. In fact, one-third of students in the United States have found it difficult to balance their studies with their relationships. To a slightly lesser degree (27.8%), other social relationships also cause stress.

How Best to Reduce Stress among College Students Statistics

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Known as our “fight or flight” response, stress is an instinctive reaction that can be both positive and negative. When it comes to the positive aspects of stress in college, students can improve their productivity when they’re under pressure. We all know how incoming deadlines can make us hit top speed and work harder than ever. 

Nonetheless: 

The negative aspects of stress often outweigh the positive ones. In other words, various symptoms can appear as a result of being under prolonged exposure to stressful situations. For instance, you could experience hypertension, headache, or a lack of concentration. 

Yet, the manifestations can sometimes be a lot more serious according to a wide array of college students and stress statistics. To clarify, excessive stress can lead to anxiety, depression, and even suicidal thoughts. Not to mention the fact that overstressed students cannot maximize their potential when it comes to academic performance. 

So, it is important to recognize the biggest stressors and develop proper coping mechanisms to deal with anxiety and stress. According to statistics, the stress in college students in 2018 was predominantly caused by financial worries, health problems, and intimate relationships. Of course, several other reasons can also trigger stress-related behavior. For instance, separation anxiety is a common problem, as is the excessive academic workload. 

Here’s the thing:

When it comes to how to alleviate and reduce stress, therapists and counselors can provide students with expert advice directly on campus. Whether you participate in a group session or have a one-on-one meeting with a member of the counseling service, it is imperative to seek professional help if you cannot cope with stress on your own! In a way, this is a crucial step in reducing stress among college students and statistics related to this issue. 

Likewise, you can take a DIY approach and start working on your habits and mindset in order to reduce stress. For example, eating a healthy diet will provide you with more energy to go through the day without burning out. 

What’s more:

Healthy eating habits will provide you with the necessary energy to start working out. As a result of physical activity, endorphins will be released into the bloodstream, boosting “happy thoughts.” On top of all that, college students who feel stressed out should find an outlet as soon as possible. 

Bottom line:

By taking a break from all their duties and obligations, students can relax and recharge their batteries. In the end, all of this should lead to a significant reduction in the current negative trends.

FAQ

What percent of college students are stressed?

In general, college students in the United States have to deal with a lot of stress. According to relevant studies, as many as 53% neglect their friends because of stress. Also, 45% feel they face “more than average” stress. Thus, we could say that around 50% of college students are stressed. Of course, these numbers may vary depending on the institution in question, time of the year, social status of the student, and other factors.    

What kind of stress do college students have?

The simplest categorization of stress that college students face is “good” versus “bad” stress. To clarify, good stress acts as a motivation factor, pushing you forward and getting the job done. On the other hand, some stress symptoms, such as difficulty sleeping or lack of concentration can have a negative impact on academic results. Besides this classification, experts divide stress into three types – chronic, acute, and episodic. 

What are the biggest stressors for college students today?

Nowadays, college students face a range of challenges and demands in college. Even so, elaborate studies have provided us with useful data on stress statistics. For example, we know that the biggest stressors are finals and exams (31%), followed by fear of entering the tough job market (24%) and overwhelming coursework (23%). So, it is evident that college students in the United States mostly stress about passing their exams and turning in their projects on time. 

What causes stress among college students?

Besides academic demands, college students can suffer from stress caused by various other issues. Among them, financial wellness and money management are probably the most common. Also, students stress about intimate relationships and interaction with loved ones. And, a considerable percentage of college students experience stress and trauma because of health-related issues. 

Are college students more stressed than adults?

At first glance, it would seem that life on campus is a 24/7 adventure, filled with endless parties and a casual lifestyle. However, this could not be further from the truth. According to a recent study, nine out of ten college students in the United States experience stress during the school year. Somewhat surprisingly, “only” 75% of adults have reported that feeling stressed out. 

How much stress do college students have?

Stress among college students is a major health issue, and authorities should not take this problem lightly. When it comes to specific figures of stress, it is important to note that measuring stress and anxiety is not an easy task. The reason is that stress is a subjective matter, different for each individual. Even so, the latest college student stress statistics say 20% of college students have experienced stress on six or more occasions in the past 12 months. 

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