The Stresses of College Life

Kara Powell

Cody Charland does a great job combing through media and research releases that are relevant to kids, families, and churches.  Recently he forwarded this post that provides an in-depth analysis of the unique stresses and challenges of college life.

If you’re over 40, college now is different than it was for you.  If you’re over 30, same thing.  In fact, if you’re over 25, it’s still pretty different.

There’s a long list of things that have changed, but toward the top of the list is technology.  I am all for technology as a tool to help us stay connected to each other, but it can also send an “everyone is having a better life and/or time than I am” message that is damaging.  Friends’ Facebook statuses and tweets mentioning how much fun they are having can lead to greater isolation in emerging adults. 

Researchers found that 29 percent of students' bad experiences occurred in private, compared with 15 percent of the good ones. And 40 percent of the time, people deliberately concealed negative feelings. They concluded that students often misperceived the emotional lives of specific peers-people they know well. Students mis-perceive that others are experiencing a more positive life than they really are! Further, there is a connection between thinking others are not experiencing negative emotions and "feeling isolated from others" — feelings that can be linked to loneliness and depression.

Even though I’m way out of college (go class of ’91!), I can relate.   I must admit that a few times per month, when I check Facebook, I’m also left with a “they are having more fun than me” feeling. 

This article gives a great solution:  COMMUNICATE with college students.  Maybe now is the time to send a text, letting them know you’re thinking of them.  Or even better yet, send a letter.  Just jot down a paragraph or two.  Or take it to an entirely new level and bake some brownies and send an actual care package.  Take 2 or 32 minutes and show a college student you are thinking of them.


Published Oct 11, 2011
Kara Powell

Kara Powell, PhD, is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI) and a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary. As a youth ministry veteran of over 20 years, she serves as an Advisor to Youth Specialties. Named by Christianity Today as one of "50 Women You Should Know", Kara is the author or co-author of a number of books including Sticky Faith, Essential Leadership, Deep Justice Journeys, Deep Justice in a Broken World, Deep Ministry in a Shallow World, and the Good Sex Youth Ministry Curriculum.

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