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Stress Levels at an All-Time High on College Campuses

By Lexxie Ortner (AP) – Students headed to college today face a drastic change of pace compared to their parents that came before them.

University student’s stress levels are at an all-time high. Students today are faced with increasing debt, heavier workloads, and longer work hours.

According to The Pew Research Center, only 30% of college students with student loans say they are living comfortably. 

As the cost of college continues to increase, the minimum wage rate stays the same pushing college students into a spiral of debt.

Professor of Higher Education Policy & Sociology at Temple University, Sara Goldrick, explains how the new economics of college includes more than just the growing college tuition but also the increased price of rent, groceries, and gas.

UTC senior Lauren Pruett enrolled at UTC Fall of 2016. Working several jobs throughout her four years of college, Pruett says she is worried about life after college.

“I’ve spent the past four years in school while trying to pay off my loans before I graduate. I graduate in five weeks and I am still thousands of dollars in debt. I’m stressed, to say the least,” stated Pruett.

While debt has taken the front stage contributing to college stress, time has also become an issue.

The ballooning cost of college tuition has triggered an influx of students working, while enrolled in college, to pay off their accumulating debt.

A study done by The Center for Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University reported that 70% to 80% of students today have jobs while in school and 40% of them work more than 30 hours per week.

Joseph Dirmeyer is the general manager of Old Gilman Grill, a locally owned restaurant in downtown Chattanooga, and oversees employment for over twenty college students.

Dirmeyer says over the past few years he’s seen an increase in his employee’s stress as they struggle to pay off college tuition and loans.

“I have employees coming up to me telling me how overwhelmed they are with school assignments and projects,” said Dirmeyer. “The next minute I turn around and they’re asking for more hours so they can pay bills and loans.”

As students continue to collect stress over the course of their education, campus counseling centers around the United States are seeing a growing number of intake patients.

A study published in 2017 by The Center for Collegiate Mental Health shared that since 2010 the need for campus counseling services has increased by over 30%.

At The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga students are encouraged to visit the counseling center.

The executive director for UTC’s disability resource center, Michelle Rigler, has also seen an increase of students visiting her office with mental disabilities related to stress. 

“I can tell you that we are seeing a huge influx of mental health issues with college students. I know there is a lot of studies being done to figure it out because across the country we are seeing a huge influx in students coming to offices like mine with anxiety and depression,” stated Rigler.

Intake hours for UTC’s counseling center are from 8:30 A.M to 3:30 P.M Monday through Friday.

About Lexington Ortner

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