Stress Periods for Students


Homesickness; especially for first year students.

  • Values crises; students are confronted with questions of conscience over value conflict areas of race, drugs, and alcohol experimentation, morality, religion, and social expectations.
  • Feelings of inadequacy and inferiority develop because of the discrepancy between high school status and grades and initial college performance.
  • "In Loco Parentis" blues; students feel depressed because of real or perceived restrictive sense of confusion, vulnerability, and lack of any advocate in power positions.


New or returning students begin to realize that life at college is not as perfect as they were led to believe by parents, teachers, and admissions staff.

  • Grief develops because of inadequate skills for finding a group or not being selected by one.
  • Mid-term work-load pressures are followed by feelings of failure and loss of self-esteem.
  • Pregnancies from summer relationships begin to show. Dilemma of what to do.
  • Non-dating students sense a loss of esteem because so much value is placed upon dates.
  • Job panic for mid-year graduates.


Academic pressure is beginning to mount because of procrastination, difficulty of work, and lack of ability.

  • Depression and anxiety increase because of feelings that one should have adjusted to the college environment by now.
  • Homecoming blues develop because of no date and/or lack of ability to participate in activities.
  • Economic anxiety; funds from parents and summer earnings begin to run out; loans come due.
  • Some students have ceased to make attempts at establishing new friendships beyond two or three parasitic relationships.


Extracurricular time strain; seasonal parties, concerts, social service projects, religious activities drain student energies.

  • Anxiety, fear, and guilt increase as final examinations approach and papers are due.
  • Pre-Christmas depression; especially for those who have concerns for family, those who have no home to visit, and for those who prefer not to go home because of family conflicts.
  • Financial strain because of Christmas gifts and travel costs.
  • Pressure increases to perform sexually because of the approach of vacation and extended separation.


Post-Christmas depression at again being away from home security.


Many students experience optimism because second semester is perceived as going "down hill."

  • Vocational choice causes anxiety and depression.
  • Couples begin to establish stronger ties or experience weakening of established ones.
  • Depression increases for those students who have failed to establish social relationships or achieve a moderate amount of recognition.
  • Social calendar is non-active.


Drug and alcohol use increases

  • Depression begins due to anticipation of separation from friends and loved ones at college.
  • Academic pressures increase.
  • Existential crisis for seniors; Must I leave school? Is my education worth anything? Was my major a mistake? Why go on? Where is God? Why am I not making it?


Academic pressures continue to increase because of mid-terms.

  • Frustration and confusion develop because of decisions necessary for pre-registration.
  • Summer job pressures.
  • Selection of a major.
  • Papers and exams are piling up.
  • The mounting academic pressures force some students to temporarily give up.
  • Social pressures; everybody is bidding for your participation at trips, banquets, and picnics.
  • Job recruitment panic.


Anxiety develops because of the realization that the year is ending.

  • Senior panic about jobs (lack of them).
  • Depression over leaving friends and facing conflicts at home.
  • Finals pressure and anxiety.

From the NASPA Journal, published by NASPA: Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education