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College freshman more stressed than previous years

A national study, that began 25 years ago on stress levels in college freshmen, found that the class of 2014 has the highest stress on record. UMass Dartmouth is no exception to this finding.

College today has more resources readily available to students, making accessing information for assignments easier than ever. So school should be less stressful, right? Not quite.

Courtney Denault, a UMass Dartmouth freshman, says most of her stress comes from anatomy class.

“I get stressed from all the studying I have to do,” said Denault. “Anatomy is hard for me, so not knowing what is going on and then trying to study and not being able to remember anything is hard for me.”

Denault isn’t alone. With many students also attending to part-time jobs and extracurricular activities, finding time to study and keep up can be a challenge. Students also think that increasing class sizes make getting personal attention from professors more difficult.

On campuses across the country, freshmen are all facing the same issues. Phoebe Laplante, a freshman at Qunnipiac University in Connecticut, balances academics with sports, playing on scholarship for the lacrosse team. The need to maintain grades to keep that opportunity puts plenty of stress on the 18-year-old. But students in years past haven’t all had this level of stress.

Nathan Bennett, 30, now works full-time in the corporate office for Trucchi’s Supermarkets. But ten years ago, he was a student at UMass Dartmouth. Although he balanced three part-time jobs while taking classes [customer service representative, video store clerk, and a position at Maxham School] he says his stress wasn’t as bad as students’ seem today.

“I would get stressed at some points, like everyone else,” said Bennett. “But these kids, it looks like they’re about to have a nervous breakdown at least once a week. When you graduated, you got a job. So it wasn’t really something I worried about. I was curious where I would end up, but it wasn’t a question of if I’d get a job, it was more a question of where.”

For many current students, the stress may stem from the idea of entering the poor economy after graduation.

“I don’t want to think about it,” said Holly Sylvia, a junior at UMass Dartmouth. “Nobody can get a job right now and I probably won’t either.”

Both Bennett and Denault fit into a gender gap revealed by the study that found women are more stressed than men, with 39 percent of women saying they felt frequently overwhelmed, compared to only 18 percent of men with that response.

Renee Kazaan, a social worker for the Maine school system, says this study is typical of what she sees every day. “Each year, more and more kids and teens are directed to me looking for resources to help them through this,” said Kazaan.

UMass Dartmouth offers a number of services for students, including the Writing and Reading Center. This peer-driven tutoring center helps students with paper writing and citation. With better grades and a higher GPA, a student can feel better about their efforts and the work they produce at school.

Also on campus is the Career Resource Center, which offers internship information, as well as staff that can guide students towards potential jobs after graduation.

With the uncertainty of the job market still lingering and graduation fast approaching yet again, it’s no wonder students have been overcome by such high stress levels. “I offer my clients all the help I can give,” says Kazaan. “What they choose to do with the information is up to them.”

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