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Major Causes and Effects of Stress on College Students

Stress is a force or group of forces that will tend to deform or strain a body; this can be because of something, which is out the ordinary in the day-to-day life for example loss of a family member, loss of job, exams. Modern college studies come with its stress to its students; relationships, regular academic stress, money or finance, responsibility, the future, peer influence, and the family. When a student experiences a lot of stress, it will influence the success of such a student regardless of his/her academic prowess or age. Stress also leads to poor emotional, mental and physical strength. Since stress causes academic distraction and stress varies from one student to the other, stress can be an inhibiting factor in student’s success if not well managed. Many of such students are facing responsibility for the first time.

Research in the field of psychology has actually shown that stress in fact cause a series of chemical reactions in the body of a human being, it is these reactions that we interpret as the outcomes of the stress, (Hunter, R. D.,1998). First year students who just joined college, since they face very new environment under new responsibility show many stress incidences. They are tasked with paying bills studying and working, all these call for a great balance, which is of great psychological challenge to the students. Not only do first year students face responsibility factor, even those who are continuing with their college studies face responsibility to achieve their set targets as well as balancing their studies with their work. Such excuses like “I woke up late” are long gone the moment one joins college as one is expected to take his own responsibility besides the parents will not be around to oversee the student concerned. The professors also face no task but to fail students who do not act responsibly in their studies. These cause of action presents a great challenge and source of stress to any student be it a new student or any students who is continuing with his/her studies.

The other major factor and source of a lot of stress to students is the family factor, almost every student has a family attachment, and even those who do not, have their sponsors who are responsible for their studies. Any student who is in the college feels the pressure and an obligation to perform to please their parents. Some students even have gone ahead to do or pursue courses that their parents want them to do, not because they have the passion for the course but simply out of the fact that they do not want to disappoint their parents. Such students have great psychological stress as they are forced to strive to meet tight results contrary to what they love doing or what they wanted to do, (Adigwe, 2008).

However, the parents may be a bit protective the first time the student is away from home and this creates an added pressure on such students and a sense of greater responsibility that forms a basis of added stress. It is worth noting that it is not worthy to deem such pressure as negligible since it is the first time such students are undergoing such responsibility yet to add on that they have to be answerable to their parents when they get home or in any case, their parents come calling in their college to check on their performance. Some parents also set targets for their children and such students have to meet or surpass such targets. What will happen if such students do not meet the targets, or in case of below par performance? It will mean the student concerned will face the task of explaining why he/she did not meet the target, and as such, the parents in such a case pose great pressure and source of stress on such students.

The other cause of stress among college students is peer pressure.  Peer pressure takes place when a student is persuaded to do what is not good, by his friends or colleagues. Peer pressure has negative effects always to the swayed individual. Peer pressure can be classified into two major categories; there is good and bad peer pressure. Bad peer pressure occurs when a student is influenced to do anything other than what brought him/her to the college or simply doing something that could be detrimental to the success of such a student.

Many students fall victims of bad peer influence owing to the fact that they fear rejection from their friends. Peer pressure usually emanates from the friends and as a trend, most friends feel they have the best opinion or advice for their friends. Many of the students who are influenced normally do not regard the eventual consequences as of great concern to them, they just say YES, as they fear being teased or becoming the laughing stock in the school.

The repercussions of bad influence comes when terse consequences are actually faced by such students, for instance if the concerned student engages in robbery within the college, it may lead to harsh disciplinary action, which include expulsion. Such students face a taunting task of explaining to their parents or sponsors their course of action. This forms a source of stress where even some of the victims of peer influence may even opt to drop completely out of school. Similarly, when they fall into trap of overindulgence in alcohol and drugs because of bad peer influence, this will lead to poor academic progress and they will struggle in doing what is right to fit into the well-behaved students, and this will jeopardize their academic progress.

Moreover, relationships form another source of stress to college students, many students fall in relationship in college and this is another source of stress since some students will be forced to live up to the expectations of their lovers or they may face heartbreaks which is the main problem associated with relationship stress. Stress that result from relationships normally can lead to depression and can be very fatal as some of the students involved in relationships may opt to take their lives owing to a lot of stress.

Always relationships become a source of stress when another student loves another one but finds out that the love he/she shares is not mutual. These can make the student expressing the feeling be away over their heads if they receive rejection and this makes they sick and weakens their immune system as stress sets in and eats up their valuable time that would have been spend studying. As their studies are affected because of the relationships, another stress of poor academic performance sets in, this leads to a web or cycle of stress and may lead to some students taking their lives.

Various effects of stress are noticeable among college students and this range from psychological to physical effects, ( Morrow, K. N., 2009). Poor health due to psychological effects of stress can lead to poor performance. A lot of stress can also lead to depression, which is a major cause of suicide among college students. Stress also definitely leads to a drop in performance hence poor college grades

In conclusion, to overcome stress and have a positive academic performance, there is need for a balance between social and academic demands. As much as social life is crucial, the peers who surround o ne has to be the one who bring positive attitude and whose association is the one that leads to better results or performance to be achieved Whitman, (N., & Spendlove, D. C.,1986).

It helps to have supportive people especially the guardians since they play a crucial role in influencing the performance of their children, as they serve to shoulder the burden of their children indirectly by giving them moral and social support as well as advising them on better way to associate with their peers and still have good academic performances. There are many ways to manage stress, by associating with right company as well as have good time management techniques. One other very important way is to consult college psychologist since they posses’ better way of advising the students in case of any problem that has a psychological influence for instance relationships and love affairs.

Similarly, stress has some negative effects on the performance and overall health of the students. On rarely occasions it may lead to cases of suicide as well as extreme drug addiction or even it may cause some students to commit murder for example if they engage in hard drugs due to peer influence in hope of reducing stress.



Adigwe, P. (2008). Perspectives on stress among college students (1st ed.). Saarbru?cken, Germany: VDM Verlag Dr. Mu?ller

Hunter, R. D. (1998). Coping with perceived stress among college students: gender differences, coping styles, and the role of alcohol, tobacco, and drug use. : .

Morrow, K. N. (2009). Mental health of college students. New York: Nova Science Publishers.

Whitman, N., & Spendlove, D. C. (1986). Increasing students’ learning: a faculty guide to reducing stress among students. Washington, D.C.: Association for the Study of Higher Education.