Overloading students with too much homework takes a toll on their mental health

By Angelina Halas
October 15, 2019

Not all professors always take into consideration what students have going on outside the classroom and what they might be experiencing personally. This may affect their ability to excel with their assignments, inside and outside of class.

A study from Psychology Today found that 44.2 percent of college students named academics to be something traumatic in their life or something too hard to handle.

The site states “that number is 10 percent higher than any other stressor, including problems with finances or intimate relationships.”

Sophomore biology major Ash Angus finds that academics is a big stressor in her life, as professors don’t take into consideration what students have going on outside the classroom, like familial pressure.

“With parents, especially if your parents are not from America, they have very high expectations of you and they want you to aim higher and higher in life because they weren’t given the same opportunities that you were,” Angus said.

She continued on to explain her belief that professors don’t consider that students have other obligations than just classwork.

The average student has much more on their mind than just homework. Graphic by Angelina Halas.

According to the American Psychology Association, 41.6 percent of college students have anxiety and 36.4 percent have depression. Angus believes that this could easily be linked to not having a good life balance of school work and outside activities.

“It is dependent on your major, but I feel like most professors pile on a lot of work,” she said. “They don’t even think about the other responsibilities you have like a job, other classes or clubs, a social life and trying to take care of your own mental health.”

Marianne Stenger, a freelance writer and journalist, found in a study that only six percent of college students find their homework to be useful in terms of preparation for tests, quizzes and projects.

Angus feels that she has no time to rest and has been only getting four or five hours of sleep because she’s always up doing homework.

Psychology professor Dr. Maya Gordon admits that she thinks about what students have going on outside the classroom and tries to give reasonable time and due dates, but she tends to think about it more when students come up to her individually.

“Just communicate with me,” Gordon said. “I understand things happen for whatever reason so just let me know. I know students juggle a lot.”

Gordon continued to explain that she presents herself in the classroom in a way that she hopes students feel encouraged to come to her if they are struggling. She also said that if she notices something is incomplete, she will reach out to that student herself to make sure everything is okay.

Gordon admits that because she is a psychologist, she might be more in tune to what students are internalizing and their emotional needs, so she structures her work around that.

According to College Raptor, “the workload at college is much heavier than what people are used to.” Photo by Angelina Halas.

“I don’t want students to have an assignment that stresses them and keeps them up at night,” Gordon said. “I don’t want them to not do their best work because they are stressed out.”

Gordon points out that she believes school should be fun and something exciting, not something that stresses students out.

“I don’t want work to take a toll on the health of a student,” she said. “That just takes away the value of an education.”

Gordon explains that within the Cabrini staff, there are a mix of teachers and some are not like her.

“Some professors aren’t as in tune into emotional states or pay as much attention. I think that’s because sometimes they forget, they’re so far removed from when they were a student. They forget what it’s like to be on the other side,” Gordon said.

Despite Gordon acknowledging students responsibilities outside the classroom, she does say that it’s up to the students to let her know if something needs to be changed to help them out.

“I don’t know if you don’t tell me. Just touch base with me. I have no problem adjusting the syllabus or getting rid of the textbook if it’s not helpful. But I only know that if students tell me,” she said.

Italian professor Tiziana Murray is on the same side as Gordon, accepting what students have going on outside of class when it comes to distributing homework.

“I give my students a whole week to do homework. I’m not very strict with the due dates,” Murray said.

Murray is also open to students coming to her if they need help. She said that now she has a more open schedule which allows for students to come see her more, whether that’s for an academic reason or just for support.

She continues to explain that she has a constant connection with her students because she’s always available through email and she will also reach out through there if it’s needed.

In her class, she gives students ways to deal with stress, along with supplying a PowerPoint.

“I want to be there for the mental and the physical support,” Murray said.

“Persistent, excessive stress can wear down the body and lead to a variety of physical and emotional issues,” according to Trade Schools. Photo by Pexels.

She allows for student feedback by asking them in class how they felt about the quizzes and the tests assigned.

“I’m open to change. Students should feel comfortable coming to me because I’m flexible enough. I will support a student if they want to be supported,” she said.

Even though professors are trying to accommodate with student’s mental health and outside activities, not all students know that the option is there to speak up and ask for help.

“They don’t take into consideration what I have going on unless I go to them first and talk to them about it,” Angus said. “I feel like they see you as just a student rather than a whole person. They see you as just a student with your letter grade or your GPA rather than a human being.”

Angelina Halas

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