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What Are the Causes of Stress Among College Sudents?

author image Rob Callahan
Rob Callahan lives in Minneapolis, where he covers style, culture and the arts for Vita.MN and "l'├ętoile Magazine." His work has earned awards in the fields of journalism, social media and the arts. Callahan graduated from Saint Cloud State University in 2001 with a Bachelor's degree in philosophy.
What Are the Causes of Stress Among College Sudents?
College students studying in the library. Photo Credit Digital Vision/DigitalVision/Getty Images


College is a new and exciting time, but it can be overwhelming. Among all of the new experiences, and learning and growing opportunities available in a college environment, many may lead to unhealthy levels of stress which hinder students' abilities to socialize and to achieve their academic goals. Recognizing the sources of stress is important in preventing it from becoming unmanageable or debilitating.


College is expensive. While some students enjoy financial help from their parents and others qualify for sufficient financial aid to pay for their college experience, many others struggle to balance a low-paying job with their already significant obligations. Students who make too little money to pay for their tuition, book costs and other living expenses, or those who make just enough, suffer from stress due to the financial problems they face.


Relationships with friends and significant others can be stressful, either because they're inherently unhealthy or because they're threatened by external sources of stress. Teenagers and young adults are still developing emotionally, and maintaining or dissolving a relationship can be especially taxing.

Physical Causes of Stress

Because college students often adopt unhealthy eating habits, sacrifice sleep for extensive studying and social activity, or consume alcohol and other substances as part of their regular activities, their physical health can become compromised. Students who are chronically tired or do not feel well because of these contributing factors will find that their performance or attendance in class suffers. They also have less energy than healthier students to devote to academic and social concerns, which results in their need to take more time to perform tasks and study for classes. The excessive time required to achieve their goals can become an additional contributor to stress.


Consistently poor academic performance leads to the threat of failure and expulsion, a large contribution to student stress levels. One of the side effects of this kind of stress is depression, which can lead to absenteeism or feelings of hopelessness that interfere with effective study habits and then further weaken academic achievement.

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