Students claim more school, more stress than parents (Thinkstock)
Students claim more school, more stress than parents
Lexile

Today's high school seniors aren't partying and socializing as much as their parents' generation. They're too busy trying to get into college, and when they get there, some don't feel good about themselves, a survey reports.

The annual survey of college freshmen by UCLA's Higher Education Research Institute found that incoming students at four-year colleges and universities last fall devoted half as many hours to hanging out with friends during their final year of high school as students who entered college in 1987, when the institute first asked respondents about hobnobbing habits.

The findings rang true to Isabella Galeazi, 18, who is juggling a job at McDonald's and a musical production internship along with a full-time course load at California State University, Fullerton. Balancing her professional and academic responsibilities with her desire for a thriving social life has proven a challenge that sometimes leaves her feeling snowed under, Galeazi said.

"My parents are always saying, 'When they were in school, when they were in school,' But I can show them my math homework and they have no clue how to do it," she said. "The work load is a lot heavier and the work is a lot harder. There is so much pressure to do well in high school or otherwise you won't get into college and if you don't do well in college you won't get a job."

The survey found that first-year-college students' sense of emotional well-being is at its lowest since the institute first asked the question in 1985.

The results are consistent with other trends that indicate millennials face greater pressure to succeed academically and have less time to have fun, said Kevin Eagan, the institute's managing director and an assistant professor at UCLA.

"Students are internalizing this message that they need to take the last year of high school seriously," Eagan said.

In the survey, nearly 39 percent said they spent five hours or less each week socializing, compared to the 18 percent who mingled with others that much in 1987. During the same 27-year period, the percentage of students who said they passed six or more hours each week "partying" shrank from 35 percent in 1987 to 9 percent in 2014.

When asked to rank their emotional health in comparison with their peers, half put themselves in the above-average category. Nearly 12 percent rated their emotional well-being as below average, a figure that stood at 3.5 percent in 1985.

Jack Foley, 18, a freshman at the University of California, Davis, advised parents not to read too much into the survey. Sure, today's older teenagers may be spending less time chilling out with friends than their folks did in the 1980s, but they connect with others through social media and the clubs and extra-curricular activities they have been primed to participate in since toddlerhood, Foley said.

"It's kind of a competition: 'Oh, you are stressed? I'm stressed!' Which isn't to say people aren't stressed, but I think there is an element of talking about how stressed you are because there is this twisted self-fulfillment level to measure up with your peers," he said. "In some ways, talking about how stressed you feel is a way to quantify how well you are doing and how hard you are working."

Dr. Gina Fleming, medical director of the University of California's student health insurance program, said that over the last three years, there has been a 20 percent increase in students seeking help for anxiety or depression. Many also complain of stomach aches, headaches and insomnia that are likely stress-induced.

"There is a greater expectation that they need to succeed and do extremely well from the get-go at the same time they are dealing with the regular transitional issues of leaving home and adapting to the student environment," she said. "The pressure that starts in high school about 'What is your SAT score? What is your GPA? What are you going to study?' is so different from 1985."

The survey was based on the responses of 153,015 first-time, full-time students at 227 colleges and universities. The responses were statistically weighted to reflect the broader population of such students approximately 1.6 million at 1,583 four-year schools.

Critical thinking challenge: What might students do to connect with others more during the course of their school work and jobs?

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COMMENTS (84)
  • HarperChristopher-DiB
    2/18/2015 - 09:14 a.m.

    This article is so true we get a lot more stress because our parents push to hard when we can't do that much work in a day but they push so we don't get bad grades and be successful in class rather than fail and be on the streets

  • ContiMichael-DiB
    2/18/2015 - 09:23 a.m.

    Its true because school is the main reason that kids feel more stressed than parents. Also, that kids feel stressed at school because they get too much pressure on them.

  • DBenjamin-Cas
    2/18/2015 - 10:02 a.m.

    I think it is a lot of pressure, but some people can take it more than others. Also, it depends on what the parents do for a living. Like if you are a doctor then your job is very stressful because someones life is in your hands. In that case your parent has a more stressful job.

  • GigiSylvester-Ste
    2/18/2015 - 10:03 a.m.

    I agree the workload that kids have right now is more than their parents ever had. I think that for high school particularly, we should start at like 10:00. Studies actually show kids who start later do better.

  • sebastiant-DiB
    2/18/2015 - 10:06 a.m.

    It has told of how teens are to busy studying and doing school work then they did when there parents had when they were younger.It has explain example on how they had to told in what they need to explain there has the part.

  • SantanaAntonio-DiB
    2/18/2015 - 10:57 a.m.

    This article is about how our generation is not partying as much as how our parents partied alot more than we do now a days kids in this generation suppose don't party which I find completely bias and a one sided argument because the difference between the new generation and the old is that the new 60% of students manage the grades and also go to parties just saying

    • BenB1-Gan
      2/18/2015 - 02:31 p.m.

      Yeah, it's good to look more in depth into a topic. Ever reviewer I know can have the same problem, like if there's a movie you like and someone, like IGN, gave it a low rating then they have a different POV than yours.

  • MerizaldeJoseph-DiB
    2/18/2015 - 11:05 a.m.

    School is a lot of stress but according to studies our generation is a lot more stressful now while our parents were partying They seemed like They had more fun back then I'm jealous

  • pp2000boa
    2/18/2015 - 01:03 p.m.

    This doesn't make sense. Our parent's generation is really a lot harder, not partying. My parents were born in Asia, they work hard in their school and college in Thailand. It is supposed to be parents smarter, right? As for partying, I think it isn't such a big want for me, and my parents wouldn't really want to go to one. As for social media, I think regular socializing is to be done first for your career and well being. I don't have social media, I think people should take well for interacting in person.

  • cc2000ProEra
    2/18/2015 - 01:04 p.m.

    I don't know if this is right or wrong but I defiantly feel stressed and overwhelmed sometimes and it'll only get worse. College is gonna be a lot of work for probably nothing and all they do is take all your money.

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