The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Thursday December 2nd

Freshman stress levels on the rise, study finds

The results of a recent study confirmed what students have always suspected — freshman year is stressful.

In a significant decline, 51.9 percent of freshmen students nationally report their emotional health to be above average compared to their peers, according to data collected by the University of California at Los Angeles.

The university’s Cooperative Institutional Research Program of the Higher Education Research Institute Freshman Survey found the drop in 2010 to be the biggest decrease since 1985, plunging 3.4 percent since 2009.

The institute annually surveys full-time freshmen students from 279 different universities — including students from UNC — asking them to rank their emotional health and to discuss their high school experiences, college expectations, attitudes and life goals.

The significant change from 2009 to 2010 indicates students are not only stressed but are also uncertain of their futures, said Linda DeAngelo, assistant director for research for the institute.

Many factors such as the current state of the economy, the stress of moving away from home and parental unemployment all affect the drop in self-reported emotional health, she said.

But the UNC Department of Psychology Community Clinic has not seen any significant increase in students getting help for stress-related problems, said Jonathan Abramowitz, director of the clinic.

“We can make some guesses about what might be accounting for this,” he said. “A good guess would be that college freshmen are just now realizing the impact of the economy but it is difficult to know for sure.

The report published by the institute also stated more students are turning toward loans to pay for college.

“The economy is responsible for a lot of people’s stress, including college students,” said Mitch Prinstein, director of clinical psychology at UNC. “This is the time when people are trying to do a lot more with a lot less.”

UNC freshman Bradley Kirby said many of his friends stress about financial situations but he does not it is not overwhelming.

“We get some folks at the clinic that are worried about classes, have social concerns about making friends, have romantic issues and society anxiety,” Abramowitz said. “We do have folks that have financial concerns.”

Contact the State & National Editor at state@dailytarheel.com.

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