Academic pressure and depression deserve more attention

By on December 8, 2004

Why am I so bummed out? I can’t get motivated! I don’t care anymore! Sound familiar? As we all know a college student’s life usually consists of attending classes, long hours of studying, working at a job (sometimes), and having a social life. Some students work at a job or study harder than others, but we are all trying to get degrees so maybe one day we will have meaningful and significant lives. It is a constant struggle for everyone who is trying desperately to make him or herself into a success. The struggle consists of demands on time, financial pressures, parental pressure and conflicts, interpersonal conflicts, managing freedom and peer and academic pressures. All of these factors combined can cause emotional disturbance and one of the most common among college students, depression.

Despite its beautiful clay-colored buildings and superb national reputation, Quinnipiac University, like other colleges, has students coping with depression and even thoughts of suicide everyday. This is a very important problem that must not be overlooked.

“What’s really scary is that young people aren’t talking about it,” senior business major Melinda Nolls said. “The way they deal with it in college is probably the way they’ll deal with it the rest of their lives.”

Erika Jones is a 21-year old sophomore English major at Quinnipiac University. I asked her about her expectations she had of attending college when she first started. Erika confesses, “You think college is going to be a great time when you live at home, but when you get here you realize it is just a rut. There is never enough time to do everything you want to do.”

As she talks I begin to think about my own expectations concerning college life and how they have been downsized. I begin to relate. I asked her if she has ever been depressed. She tells me, “yes, I have and it had a lot to do with school. It takes a good amount of time to get adjusted to a new environment and what you need to do to survive and achieve.” She admits, “I had to take a semester off a year ago because school, work and paying the bills were a lot to handle and I needed time to get my head together. No one tells you about these kinds of pressure in orientation.”

We are well towards the end of the semester and final exams are just around the corner. Academic pressure is an obvious and most talked about cause of stress in the lives of college students. First, a student must decide what he/she is going to study, but that course of studying is a deciding factor of what they will be doing for the rest of their lives. Or at least that is how it feels when deciding. This can be an overwhelming feeling for Quinnipiac students and many young adults. One of the greatest influences of academic pressure is what grade a student receives in any given class. If the grade is not good enough, it can lead to disappointment.

Also, many students I have spoken with talked bluntly about conversations between their parents. One prevailing pressure upon students in college stems from an excess of parental involvement. Guardians might disagree with the major of study of many students because it does not live up to their expectations. There is also a great amount of weight placed upon the shoulders of college students by parents to do well in each and every class. Therefore, if a student fails a class or gets a moderate grade not only did the student let him/herself down but also knows that the parent will be disappointed and possibly angry. This problem that many students grapple with. This kind of pressure can create a low self-esteem, which directly connects with depressive episodes.

The transitional problems of the college experience can feed off each other. This can throw someone full force into depression. Students find themselves with greater amounts of responsibility and daily stress. Usually students lack coping strategies and find themselves feeling helpless. This can lead to great frustration and increased feelings of hopelessness.

This issue of depression and suicide is not fully addressed by institutions of higher learning. Quinnipiac does offer and provide students with health and counseling services, but the majority of students are unaware of these services. Although Quinnipiac provides counseling services, many students are apprehensive about utilizing these services due to unfamiliarity with depression.

“The university does a pretty good job overall, I think, but there is always room for improvement,” said Erika. Depression among Quinnipiac students is something that should be discussed more. Along with health services, families and friends should all be involved and try to help a friend, daughter, or son overcome this problem with professional help and support. Students not only attending Quinnipiac University but other colleges as well, need to be aware beforehand that there is a great amount of stress and transition that students will go through. Erika is right. These things are not in orientation, but issues like tuition discussed are fully covered.


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