Student stress is not a surprise, it is inevitable. Student life essentially takes a lot of young people and puts them into a pressure cooker of academic expectation, myths about how great the student life is, together with the usual stresses of being a young adult with (usually) very limited financial resources. Mature students tend to be less fazed by their social life – or lack of – but everyone brings their own strains to the pressure cooker.
However, human beings are designed to cope with stress. We’ve all heard of adrenalin and the ‘fight or flight’ response. To put that into context for University students the fight mechanism will involve staying at University and continuing to study, with or without additional study support. Your flight mechanism will kick in if you realise that the threat of University to your mental health is too great and you leave. Both fight and flight are a question of self-preservation: the idea is that you assess the situation and make the best decision you can.
Chronic stress often develops when people believe that they have no choice, that they are powerless and ‘trapped’. Students have often told me that they feel trapped by parental expectations, even tutors’ expectations, an assumption that ‘everyone’ will be disappointed in them if they leave. Human beings are accountable to God, not to ‘everyone’ 🙂 . Talk to those who care about you, get some advice from tutors and make the best decision you can.
If you don’t know what to do and decide to battle on for a while know that you are not trapped – you can leave if you decide to – but while you remain at University give it your best shot. If in doubt keep working.
Studying at University is never a waste of time – simply ‘being’ at University, going through the motions but scarcely attending and not working IS a waste of time.
Coming very soon: posts with suggestions for things you can do to survive stress.