Why are College Students More Stressed Today than Ever?

In my last post, I used data from the American Time Use Survey to compare the daily activities of American college students, high school students, and non-students. And as we saw, the data suggest that full-time college students generally lead a lifestyle that is more “balanced” between obligations and personal pleasures (a bad thing, assuming it’s preferable to have a less balanced lifestyle, where you devote more time to things you want to do than to things you feel you have to do).

Although, in general, more people devote time to things they want to do (e.g., socializing, leisure, and personal care) than to things they might feel they have to do (e.g., work and education), the percentage of people spending time on things they have to do is higher among college students (39.96%) than among non-students (36.93%) and high school students (34.55%).

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A Day in the Life of a College Student

It is of course cliche to point out that the average college student leads a busy life, having to balance academics, extra-curricular activities, personal commitments, and perhaps even a full-time job and family.

But factor in the burden of student debt and the difficulties of finding a good job in today’s post-recession job market and surely this should be enough to convince almost anyone that the current generation of college students is under considerable stress.

Importantly though, the challenges facing many of today’s students go far beyond mere stress. In fact, based on findings from some recent reports and surveys, American colleges and universities might well be facing a serious mental health crisis among their student bodies.

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