Supporting Your Student Through Stress: Look to the Calendar

A calendar with a push pin placed on a date with the reminder ''reach your goals'', emphasizing the importance of following a calendar to predict stressors on college students.
It is common for the unknowns of college life to create stress for new students at the start of fall semester. But university life has stressors for students at all levels, and spring semester comes with unique challenges, too. To best support your student, keep these things in mind:



• As academic pressure begins to mount, some students may struggle with procrastination and work difficulty.
• Depression and anxiety may increase for students who feel they haven’t yet adjusted to college life.
• Summer job funds begin drying up, creating economic stress.
• First-year students may experience romantic breakups with partners from high school while visiting home for Thanksgiving, based on new opportunities at college and the challenges of long-distance relationships.
• Some students stop trying to build new friendships beyond the small number they’ve started.



• Energy drains because of extra-curricular stress with end-of-semester and holiday-themed social events or service projects.
• Anxiety and fear increase as exams loom.
• Pre-break depression can start for students with no home to visit, or strained family relationships that await them.
• Travel and holiday gift expenses cause financial strain.
• Romantic relationships may feel strained because of the upcoming separation during winter break.



• Post-holiday blues may settle in.
• Transitions back to school from an extended break at home may be difficult.



• Crossing the mid-year “hump” gives some students optimism.
• Decisions about majors and careers can cause anxiety.
• Depression can increase for students who have failed to establish social relationships.



• Alcohol use can increase with warming spring weather, and continue as the semester moves to conclusion.
• Academic expectations begin to increase.
• The anticipated separation from friends and college life can spark depression.
• Seniors may experience feelings of existential crisis as they consider their futures.



• Academic pressures continue to mount as projects and papers become due.
• Stress about summer employment may begin.
• Social pressures increase with attendance needed at events, banquets, meetings.



• Anxiety rises as classes end and work is due.
• Seniors may feel panic about employment.
• Depression may begin after leaving school and resuming life with family.


With credit to “A Model for Identifying and Responding to Stress Periods of Students,” by Paul Larson and William Laramie of Berea College, published in the journal NASPA, and to Widener Associate Dean of Students Catherine Feminella.