College students everywhere are familiar with that anxious feeling they get when they realize that time is not on their side and they’re second-guessing whether or not they’re ready to take that test next period. It’s been said that college is stressful, but the association between college and stress begins long before the endless amount of reading and 15-page papers.
Junior and senior year of high school students experience stress when they have to decide what to do after they graduate. “It seems that high school students might be generally more stressed then a generation ago. They have so many activities that it’s quite a challenge to balance it all,” said Anne Leibig, a guidance counselor at Radnor High School.
“The stress of writing papers and having all of this work isn’t something I had to deal with in high school. It’s annoying,” said Maria Flear, freshman elementary education major.
“Freshman are stressed because they were at the top of their class in high school and now it’s like they have to start all over again,” said Dr. April Perrymore, assistant professor of psychology. “Change creates a lot of stress for people, even if they want the change to happen.”
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, stress for young adults is derived from their circle of friends, extra-curricular activities and the pressure to do well in school by their parents. Also, knowing the difference between right and wrong in life is one of the things parents want to drill into their child’s head before they reach the age where they can’t help make those decisions.
Therefore, according to an interview conducted by USAToday, Marilee Jones, an admissions dean at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, while parents’ advice and nagging might help the child grow to make responsible decisions, the fear of slipping is elevated during the adolescent years for both child and parent. However, parents aren’t all to blame. Leibig said that parents often come to her to ask what they can do to help distress their kids.
Stress can be harmful not only mentally but also physically. A lot of students find themselves coming down with a cold during midterms or finals because they are pushing their bodies to their limit by staying up late and worrying too much. “Stress is very motivating, but an overwhelming amount of it is paralyzing too,” Perrymore said.
Dr. Melissa Terlecki, assistant professor of psychology, tells her students “to get organized and take one step at a time.”
After four years of college, senior psychology major, Nora Marchetto-Ryan can say that she did learn one valuable lesson about time management: “I am very stressed, but I also feel more in control. I don’t procrastinate as much.” To deal with the stress of applying to 14 grad schools, Marchetto says that she tries to stay on top of things and sets her own personal deadlines so she’s not overworked, “I try to stay healthy too and leave myself some relaxation time.”
Perrymore said that staying healthy and finding a balance is key to surviving the fast-paced society of today. However, if setting weekly goals to ease the workload of the week seems far fetched, or if going to the gym is too far of a walk or drive, the American Academy of Pediatrics is developing a website that gives teens other options to reduce stress at www.aap.org/stress/.