THE PROBLEM AND ITS SETTING
Stress is defined as a perceptual phenomenon arising from a comparison between the demand on the person and his or her ability to cope (T. Cox 1978). An imbalance in this mechanism, when coping is important, gives rise to the experience of stress, and to the stress response. In his excellent book “The Stress Myth”, Richard Ecker (1985) maintains that it is wrong to say that your job, marriage, or other parts of your life are “stress filled”. Your life, says Ecker, includes sources of tension, pressure and change that can be perceived in various ways. It is your perception of something that turns it into a stressor (threat) to your well being. As soon as a stressor exists in your mind, you’ll have stress. As cited in the Philippine Daily Inquirer (2007), a survey across seven countries in Asia showed that Filipinos are in fact the most stressed-out people in the region. The first Asia Health Survey conducted by Reader’s Digest and Nielsen Media Research found that more than two out of five Filipinos (43%) said they were affected by stress. The survey conducted in August 2006 involved 24,000 respondents in seven Asian countries – the Philippines, Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand. Moreover, the Department of Health (DOH, 1998) asserted that the sources of stress among college students are physical environment, work overload, family and personal problems. DOH acknowledges that stress affects academic performance and that intervention is necessary to address emotional, behavioral, psychological and social reactors brought about by stress. In a similar study conducted in the University of North Carolina at Charlotte by Womble (2006), it was found out that the perceived stress of the college students had a significant impact on their academic performance. About 40% of the students perceived that not getting enough sleep primarily contributed to their lower grade point average followed by having problems with roommates and social activities tied for second with 26%. Lastly, working part-time job came third with 23%, close to the number 2 spot. Cebu Normal University (CNU), being an institution flagged for teacher education, has been known to be effective in providing rigorous quality training. Considering this stereotype, college students are confronted with so many obstacles to overcome in order to achieve their optimal academic performance. It takes a lot more than just studying to achieve a successful college career. Different stressors can pose their own threat to a student’s academic performance. The way their academic performance is measured is through the ordinal scale of grade point average (GPA). Going into the scope of CNU, the stressors in any way were able to influence the academic performance of the students. Evidently, CNU students complain discretely about particular matters in this university. CNU makes use of a block-sectioning set-up where students have no other options but to follow the prearranged schedule. Aggravating to the situation is the inconsistent study loads which most often than not exceeds to the prescribed load in a semester (CNU Revised Curriculum 2001-2002 until 2004). This makes proper time management difficult to do in day’s work. Consequently students cannot choose their own professors due to time constraints and unavailability of rooms/space for the students (Hernani, 2007), which add up burden whenever a stern teacher imposes projects in an inconsiderable time. Thus, students need to burn the midnight candle in order to comply with the demands of the teachers. This makes CNU students sleep shorter than the normal number of hours. This backdrop paves way in developing psychological maladjustment such as anxiety and stress, which is contributory to lower academic performance as supported by Kelly and Clanton (2001). Some academic situational constraints as referred by Hatcher and Prus (1991) add more to...