Stress Levels Among College Students

Topics: Stress, Higher education, University Pages: 8 (1767 words) Published: April 28, 2015

Stress Levels among College Students
Rebecca Mathews
Iona College

The purpose of this study was to examine the differing stress levels of college students while looking at their year in college and whether or not they are a member of an athletics team. This study utilized a consent form, a demographic form, a survey to determine the stress level of the participant, and a debriefing form for each of the participants. The results of this study showed that only the athletic status of the participant had an impact on the stress level of the participant. The students who were athletes had higher stress levels than those students who were non-athletes. However, it turned out that the year in college had no impact on the stress of the participant.

Stress Levels among College Students
Stress is defined as “a mentally or emotionally disruptive or upsetting condition occurring in response to adverse external influences and capable of affecting physical health, usually characterized by increased heart rate, rise in blood pressure, muscular tension, irritability, and depression” (McCleod). Stress and anxiety are the top reported impediments to academic performance in college students, both in the undergraduate and graduate levels. Between 2010 and 2014, the level of students reporting stress as an issue rose from 25 to 31%, while anxiety rose from 17 to 22%. (Miller). While having some stress is a normal occurrence, having too much stress can have negative side effects. Some of these side effects include excessive anxiety, depression, digestive problems, heart disease, sleep problems, weight gain, and impairment with memory and concentration (Chronic stress puts your health at risk). One of the most stressful times in a young adult’s life is the transition into college. But for some students, life after that initial transition only becomes more stressful. Some of those students are the students who are members of their school’s athletics teams.
In the past, many researchers had agreed that participating in athletics could serve as an outlet for people to relieve stress from their lives. However, recently some research has indicated that playing sports can actually result in an increase in the amount of stress in a person’s life. For example, a recent study found that nearly 50% of male athletes and a little more than 50% of female athletes indicated that “stresses associated with sport participation, such as pressure to win, excessive anxiety, frustration conflict, irritation and fear significantly affected their mental and emotional health” (Wilson). One of the biggest obstacles that student athletes report as the cause of their stress is time related factors. In other words, they felt that there was not enough time to fully complete their academic and athletic duties to the best of their abilities. This is natural, since student athletes are balancing higher level education with higher level athletics, and are bound to show some strain when compared to their peers.

Another issue that arises from being a student athlete is the issue of burnout. It has been shown that it takes 10 years or 10,000 hours of practice to create a talent in any field, and this pertains in particular to athletics. Given this incredible time commitment to one’s practice, it is common for athletes to suffer from what is referred to as burnout. Burnout can be defined as “physical, social, and emotional withdrawal from a formerly enjoyable activity as a result of chronic stress and motivation concerns that is typically characterized by feelings of emotional exhaustion, reduced accomplishment, and depersonalization/devaluation” (Gould). So, for athletes, another side effect of excessive stress is burnout. As with the amount of stress in athletes lives, the rate of burnout has also been increasing in the past few years. In a study done in 2007, it was...

References: Adler, P., & Adler, P. (1985). From Idealism to Pragmatic Detachment: The Academic Performance of College Athletes. Sociology of Education, 58, 241-250
Chronic stress puts your health at risk. (2013). lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress/art-20046037
Gould, D., & Whitley, M. (2009). Sources and Consequences of Athletic Burnout among College Athletes. Journal of Intercollegiate Sports, 2, 16-30
McCleod, Q. (2015) Stress Levels among Student Athletes and Non Student Athletes. Elon University
Miller, J. (2014, December 3). Students see rise in stress levels, studies indicate. Retrieved April 2, 2015, from
Wilson, G., & Pritchard, M. (2005). Comparing Sources of Stress in College Student Athletes and Non-Athletes. The Online Journal of Sport Psychology, 7
Figure 1: Effect of athletic status on stress score
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