According to the American Psychological Association's latest Stress in America report, 87% of college students report that their education is a significant source of stress, with 82% also worried about the uncertainty that will come.
What caused the academic pressure or the experience in which a student is burdened by the demands of time and energy to achieve specific academic goals?
Besides uncertainty, parent expectations and the student's own expectations of academic excellence are a cause of academic pressure. Failing to achieve academic excellence in a meritocracy society also creates pressure on those who are not academically strong.
Academic pressure may stem from a few factors:-
Too Many Things To Master
Besides studying in a wide range of topics, students also need to be all-rounded in both contributing to society, and sports. These are unrealistic expectation of students given everyone is master in different fields.
With information overload and a fast-changing world, skills change rapidly and become obsolete quickly. Students must prioritize their tasks and responsibilities, besides their well-being and needs.
Things Out Of Control
82% of college students are worried about the uncertainty that will come. There are many things out of control like how smart classmates are, how difficult the exams will be, how biased the teachers will be in grading, and how cooperative classmates are in projects.
Students with a negative outlook in life will focus on fear and overthinking outcomes that are out of their control.
Focusing on academics 24/7 take a toll on study-life balance, having to reject friends and family or even taking out some time alone to give the brain a break it needs over the long-term. The academic journey will last a few years, and it always require consistent efforts to maintain being among the top in class.
Job Outlook Stress Causing Academic Pressure
The job outlook for college students is not as rosy as it once was. The unemployment rate among recent graduates has risen to 6.7 percent, the highest in more than a decade. And while some of this increase can be attributed to the recession, many experts say that the rise is due to an increased number of jobs requiring higher education and skills.
Parental Expectations Of Academic Excellence
According to research by psychologists and sociologists, parental expectations play a major role in their child’s academic performance. For the most part, high parental expectations have a direct correlation to a child’s academic success - boasting higher grades and an increased chance in pursuing higher education.
Parents who have higher expectations may also find ways and means to motivate their children to study, such as building reward systems and creating incentives. While it starts off as mere encouragement, it has the potential to create too much unhealthy pressure as students push themselves in order to achieve certain rewards.
Demands Placed On Students By Society At Large
The 2019 College Admissions Scandal exposed 33 parents of college applicants who had paid more than $25 million dollars to college admissions consultant, William Singer, between 2011 to 2018 to help their children guarantee admission into elite colleges in the United States.
Considering how meritocracy rules in the world of academia, the College Admissions Scandal serves to elucidate how privileged students who struggle to compete with others of better academic abilities or athleticism would go the extra mile just to be admitted into top schools due to the societal emphasis on academic success. This importance can also be seen through the comparisons of school prestige and why many perceive going to Harvard or Stanford as always better than going to a public university with a 100% acceptance rate like Cleveland State University.
With the demands for good grades and excellent academic performance being placed on students by society, it is no surprise that many start feeling the heat from academic competition between peers.
The Ambitious Goals Students Place On Themselves
While familial and societal expectations may play a big part in exacerbating the already intense academic pressure placed on students, it is also important to acknowledge that for the most part, much of this affliction stems from within the students themselves.
In relation to the aforementioned external factor of societal demands, a student confessions post mentions some of the fears students face in their academic journey, mainly rejection and stress.
Rejection: Questions like “What if no college accepts me because I am not good enough?” are commonplace and the fear of rejection pushes students to strive for better results in order to avoid the possibility of being rejected from their dream schools.
Stress: On top of the existing stress and pressure from assigned school work, students would also be studying for standardized tests and writing college applications in their last year of high school. A student confesses that “at times it feels like everyone is ahead of me and isn’t feeling the same stress that I am. I want to still be able to enjoy my last year of high school without constantly thinking about getting into college.” (AdmitsSee)
With so many factors to consider, the academic pressure faced by many students seems inevitable. But academic pressure may not be all bad. It can serve as healthy motivation for students to reach their fullest potential and achieve greater success IF handled well.