Stress Management Situational Stress Common Causes of Stress in College By Elizabeth Scott, PhD Elizabeth Scott, PhD Twitter Elizabeth Scott, PhD is an author, workshop leader, educator, and award-winning blogger on stress management, positive psychology, relationships, and emotional wellbeing. Learn about our editorial process Updated on December 01, 2020 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by David Susman, PhD Medically reviewed by David Susman, PhD David Susman, PhD is a licensed clinical psychologist with experience providing treatment to individuals with mental illness and substance use concerns. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print James Woodson/Digital Vision/Getty Images Many students deal with stress in college—which can be a significant factor in the dreaded 'Freshman 15'. In fact, due partially to stress, a surprisingly high percentage of college freshmen don’t go on to graduate. What accounts for this stress? The following are common college stressors: Academic Stress Not surprisingly, the workload of college is significantly more involved than the high school workload. This also comes with less hand-holding from parents and teachers. With challenging classes, scheduling issues to coordinate, difficult tests and other academic obstacles, coupled with the most independent nature of the college learning structure, many new and returning students find themselves studying long, hard hours. Social Stress College freshmen face the most obvious social challenges that usually involve leaving one’s entire support structure behind, creating a new social network, dealing with being away from home for the first time, and finding less parental support. Because of these changes, most students face social stress. Finding and living with a roommate, balancing friends with school work (and often part-time jobs), and dealing with the dynamics of young adult relationships can all be difficult, and these challenges can lead to significant stress. Other Stresses There are also many miscellaneous stresses that often come from college life. Many students keep crazy hours from staying up late to study, getting up early for classes, and trying to cram in all the work and fun that can possibly fit. Often the logistics of living more independently—from laundry to car insurance—can cause stress. New students deal with missing home and more seasoned students may wonder if they’re in the right major. Many students struggle with who they are and where they’d like to be, at least at some point in their college career. The Impact of Stress What effect do these issues have on students? Just as everyone deals with stress in a unique way, college students experience a range of consequences from stress, from mild to severe. Here are some of the common effects of stress: Experience of Stress One of the most commonly felt consequences of college stress is a feeling of being overwhelmed. While trying to find a balance of how hard to work (and play), many college students struggle with perfectionism or unhealthy habits like heavy drinking. Press Play for Advice On Accepting Yourself As You Are Hosted by Editor-in-Chief and therapist Amy Morin, LCSW, this episode of The Verywell Mind Podcast, featuring Harvard Professor Ronald Siegel, shares how you can learn how to embrace yourself as you are. Click below to listen now. Follow Now: Apple Podcasts / Spotify / Google Podcasts Weight Issues Partially because of stress and partially because of other social and practical issues faced by college students, many struggles with their weight. Many gain 10-20 pounds around their first year and others lose weight unintentionally or struggle with eating disorders. Dropout Rate You may be surprised to hear that roughly 50% of American students who enter college don’t end up graduating. According to U.S. Census figures, 6-in-10 high school seniors go on to college the following year, but only 29% of adults 25 and over had at least a bachelor’s degree. Certainly, finances and life circumstances play into that figure, but the stress of college life is a factor that should not be ignored. Because of these factors—and because college is supposed to be enjoyed, not endured—it’s important to keep college stress under control. Exploring college life stress relief strategies can help you find the resources you need to keep these years more relaxed, productive, and just plain fun. Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Bewick BM, Mulhern B, Barkham M, Trusler K, Hill AJ, Stiles WB. Changes in undergraduate student alcohol consumption as they progress through university. MBC Public Health, May 2008. U.S. Census 2000, 2008. Yager Z, O'Dea JA. Prevention programs for body image and eating disorders on University campuses: a review of large, controlled interventions. Health Promotion International, June 2008. By Elizabeth Scott, PhD Elizabeth Scott, PhD is an author, workshop leader, educator, and award-winning blogger on stress management, positive psychology, relationships, and emotional wellbeing. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Speak to a Therapist for Stress Management Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.