Stress the latter is damaging and has

Stress can be found everywhere; a student
worrying about an upcoming exam, a shopkeeper that is in constant fear of
bankruptcy. Sincero (2012) stated “Stress is the physical, mental and emotional
human response to a particular stimulus, otherwise known as ‘stressor’.” Opposed
to the belief that stress carries a negative connotation, it is important to
our success and health. There are two types of stress, eustress and distress.
The former being a positive form of stress that propels an individual to
greater heights and success. It gives the extra push needed to reach personal
goals. Whilst the latter is damaging and has adverse side-effects. Distress
hinders people from performing at optimum levels and in the long run, has
devastating effects on their physical and mental health. (Ireh, 1994, p. 234). College
students likewise, are not spared from the effects of stress. According to a
2008 mental health study by Associated Press and mtvU, “eight out of ten
college students claims that they have experienced some form of stress in their
everyday lives over the past three months.” (as cited in Marksbery, 2017). Stressors
related to academic, environment and personal factors. This essay will seek to
demonstrate how aforementioned “stressors” can have an effect on their academic
success and the different approaches to managing stress.

 Academic-related
stressors, where student feels overwhelmed by, such as increased class workload
(Reisberg, 2000). is one of the major factors which affects students
academically. Workload related stress can inevitably lead to the issue of
fearing to fail. Schafer (1996) describes the fear of failing as: “… perfectly
natural and can help motivate you to prepare and perform well.  Sometimes, however, fear of failure becomes
so extreme that it creates unnecessary emotional and physical distress.” Although
the added workload might seem intimidating, proper measures can be put in place
to assist students thus not having to feel overwhelmed and keeping up with
curriculum.  An example of helping
students cope with such stressors, Holman (2010) suggested that they should develop
a consistent study plan. For instance; allocating certain weeks to specific
subjects. If there were no exams in those subjects, the allocated time could be
used to catch up on reading or reviewing of lecture notes. Keeping in mind
that, said study plans should account for changes and a revision of it, on a
weekly basis, to track that students are using their time wisely.

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The
transition to a university can be a daunting experience for many students,
especially for the first years. “Individuals often move
away from home for the first time during this period and are cut off from
family and friends who have provided significant social support in their lives”
(Pancer, Hunsberger, Pratt, & Alisat, 2000). With the lack of support and
being in a new environment, students must learn to adjust to their new social
environment whilst keeping up their academic performance. (Ross, Neibling &
Heckert, 1999). During these periods, students go through a lot of stress due
to the need to change and adjust, which can lead to higher levels of
homesickness following the transition. As a result, affecting the student
negatively, making it hard for them to study or cope with academic life.
(Fisher, 1994). Although homesickness slowly fades as time passes, some
students might experience it for the entirety of their stay in the university.
To help students through the adjustment period, Grobbelaar and Rudman (2017)
suggested that making new friends through social gathering held by the student
body and joining a society, study or sports group is important in preventing
aloneness and homesickness as it gives you a sense of belonging within the
university.

Inflation is everywhere, with the cost of
living on the rise, it is no surprise that college students are taking up
part-time jobs to help them cope. Which leads to the third and final factor of
the essay; financial issue.  According to
a report written by Neale, Pigott, Hansom and Fagance (2017), a survey
conducted showed that two out of five students feels stressed when it came to managing
their money at universities. This was more likely to occur amongst students
from lower income family and female students. The effects of working late
nights can lead to no time to study and can have negative results on their
academic performance. “More time spent at work can encroach on time otherwise
available for studying” (Trockel, Barnes & Egget, 2000). Although working
and studying may cause students’ stress and have adverse effects on their
academic performance. On the contrary, The Student Living Report (2004) found
that working part-time did not have detrimental affects on their studies. In fact,
Caldwell (2017) found that students holding a part time job do better in school
as they need to learn how to manage their time properly, planning out the week
to make time to study.

Further studies have shown that there are different
ways used to cope with stress; problem-focused coping and emotion-focused
coping. (Fisher, 1994) The former, problem-focused coping; involves analysis of
the main sources of problems to see if changes can be made, usually done through
social support where students have a channel to share their problems. As
described by Hobfoll (1988) “Social support is helpful because it provides the
individual with feedback, validation and a sense that once can master one’s
environment.” Thus, helping students get through it by distracting them of
their dissatisfaction and changing their personal point of view of what has occurred.
Emotion-focused coping, usually done through counselling, where thoughts and
feelings are brought out into the open and discussed by the counselor. (Fisher,
1994). An example of a need for emotion-focused coping. would be the feeling of
homesickness.

 

Although stress can take many forms, as
shown in this essay, not all of it is bad. With the right amount of push, it
can propel us to achieve greater heights, and too much can have adverse and
damaging effects. Be it coping with the extra workload, making the transition
or juggling a part-time job proper measures can help cope with the stress that
comes with. Even though stress cannot be avoided altogether, I feel it all comes
down to the students’ time management skills. With proper time management as
suggested in the essay, no matter the amount of workload or extra hours put in
to the part-time jobs, students would not feel that they do not have time to
study and in turn perform academically. A new environment for some may seem
daunting, as addressed in the essay there are ways to improve the situation.
Join a society, make new friends and if it still perceives speak to the
school’s counselor. In conclusion, I do agree that stress has an impact on
academic success in college students but whether or not it has a positive or
negative impact really depends on how the student approach the situation and if
they are equipped with the knowledge of dealing with overwhelming stress.

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