Anxiety can be unpredictable and creeps into the mind beginning as a feeling of worry being presented in situations that an individual feels they have no control over. As the unease in these situations increases, anxiety can begin affecting everyday life preventing a person’s ability to complete tasks they once found simple.
For many college students, anxiety is simply another part of the college experience you purchase – along with your textbooks.
“Anxiety and depression continue to be the most common presenting concerns for college students as identified by counseling center staff,” stated the Center for Collegiate Mental Health 2016 Annual Report by Penn State. “In addition, students’ self-reported distress levels for depression, generalized anxiety, and social anxiety continue to evidence slight but persistent increases each year for the past six years.”
Slight but persistent increases mark a concern to many, notably those who must deal with being college students and experience anxiety themselves.
While it is undoubtedly common to be nervous when entering college, the cause of the increase of anxiety among students is still unclear. Is the juggling of classes, work and a social life becoming too hard for the current college student? Or has something changed that makes the act of juggling impossible for some?
Perhaps the answer is simple. Perhaps the act of juggling – and the objects being juggled – hasn’t changed at all but rather the weight of them.
If anxiety among college students has had an increase in the last six years it is only fair to analyze what also changed among students in the last six years.
According to a Pew Research Study Analysis of government data one change among college students was student loans.
“In 2012, a record share of the nation’s new college graduates (69 percent) had taken out student loans to finance their education, and the typical amount they had borrowed was more than twice that of college graduates 20 years ago,” the report stated.
The reason for the increase in college students feeling compelled to take student loans may vary but generally comes down to the cost of tuition and a student’s inability to pay it.
While cost of college is a strong source of anxiety to students who have a problem paying for higher education, cost alone is not the sole perpetrator of student anxiety.
As stated earlier, being a college student is a juggling game and if one object outweighs the rest eventually the juggler will tire themselves out trying to keep all the objects in the air.
So where does this leave the average college student? If anxiety is climbing due to factors such as the increase of college tuition does a student really have no choice in experiencing great levels of anxiety?
Not necessarily. The chances of anxiety affecting a student varies from student to student and so there is little evidence that anxiety is an absolute guarantee for those who decide to take the path to higher education. What there is evidence of is a clear indication of a problem.
Because just as anxiety can affect every aspect of a student’s life it can, in turn, affect the college and surrounding communities as well.
College graduates are a vital part of their community – bringing knowledge they learn in classes to their trade of choice and often becoming innovators that help shape their respective communities. If a student believes they cannot learn then they will not learn and in turn not receive their degrees and enrich their communities with the education they experience in the college environment.
The first step in handling a problem is recognizing that there is one. From there understanding the factors that shape the problem can become a huge help in solving it.
In the case of current college students enrolled in universities, community and private colleges experiencing anxiety may be unavoidable. But that does not mean it is always going to be unavoidable. By recognizing the problem presented in the increases in anxiety among college students, educators, political figures and even students themselves can begin taking steps to understand the cause of this increase. Admitting there is a problem is the first step one must take to solve it.
Nichole Harwood is a reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Nolidoli1.