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

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.

It's an annual survey of college freshmen. It was taken by UCLA's Higher Education Research Institute. The survey 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. That was when the institute first asked respondents about their hobnobbing habits.

The findings rang true to Isabella Galeazi, age 18. She is juggling a job at McDonald's and a musical production internship. She also has 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. Sometimes she said she feels snowed under.

"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. Otherwise you won't get into college and if you don't do well in college you won't get a job."

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

In the survey, nearly 39 percent said they spent five hours or less each week socializing. That's compared to the 18 percent who mingled with others that much in 1987.

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. That figure stood at 3.5 percent in 1985.

Jack Foley, age 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 is the medical director of the University of California's student health insurance program. She 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," she said.

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

Assigned 163 times

  • Kamal-Abd
    2/18/2015 - 08:34 a.m.

    I would think that the answer to the main question is yes. We go through a lot more stress than our parents. They don't realize that we have so much homework. They only are asking us how it is. We explain, but they don't understand.

  • ad2000stealth
    2/18/2015 - 08:40 a.m.

    Students might try connecting through social media, sports at their school, clubs, extracurriculars, etc... while they are going through school stuff/ work stuff. Most students actually find a strong bond between the people that they hang out with during these activities. From my experience, I know that I have made multiple friendships by being on the school softball team and other extracurricular.

  • jm1999gizmo
    2/18/2015 - 08:41 a.m.

    they might connect by telling people what there doing in other class rooms or how there day is or if they get a new teacher they will talk about the teacher so everyone knows that the teacher is mean or nice

  • Dm2001
    2/18/2015 - 08:44 a.m.

    They could hang out with each other before school and after school depending on their work hours. They even hang out before they go to work because they have nothing to do after school but homework and maybe nothing until they have to work and they can also connect by doing their work together after school

  • ariellew-DiB
    2/18/2015 - 08:45 a.m.

    I think that most teens should study more than going to party's like it's always good to have fun. But school shows your life and it's important. Also I think that teens now do have more work and it's a lot more harder than ever.

  • briw-boo
    2/18/2015 - 11:20 a.m.

    School stresses me out sometimes too. Its a lot going on , you have to do school work,homework etc. Its harder once you get to middle school too because you have more than one class. I get headaches a lot in school and I just want to relax and go home.

  • kyrap-boo
    2/18/2015 - 11:34 a.m.

    Honestly, I don't think that socializing is as important as it used to be. Most people nowadays have cell phones and social media, allowing people to communicate virtually rather than face to face. The complaint here is about not getting to out with friends as often as in the 80's-90's. Most people sit on their phones even when there is someone with them anyway (I know I do for sure). I feel like high school students are using that as an excuse to make people feel like students are under too much pressure. I often feel stressed when it comes to school work, but that's just how it is. Education is evolving and we have to deal with it. This generation doesn't have it like our parents did. They weren't pressured into doing excellent in school and encouraged to go to college because they thought they could still be successful, but now education is a necessity if you want a good life.

  • allies-4
    2/18/2015 - 11:51 a.m.

    Students have been given less time to socialize and relax lately because of school. The homework load has been increased and the lessons are harder, parents do not understand their kids struggles because when they were in school, high school was essentially easier and less stressful. Most kids who are college freshmen right now regret their high school experience because they did not do enough of what they wanted to do, or because it wasnt the experience they were told they were going to get. Why has workload increased in recent years? I was really excited for highschool when I was a kid but now about to go into it, Im kind of nervous for all the stress.

  • BiancaB-3
    2/18/2015 - 12:12 p.m.

    I am obviously not a senior in high school, or a collage student, but I must agree with this article. Our generation has it much harder academically than say our parents. Considering I am only an eight grade student, I don't have much room to talk. However, when I try and show my parents one of my math problems they tell me that they have no idea how to solve it. This proves to me that our generation has been given harder work. Our work load takes me several hours a night as well. Not only do I have lots of homework, but I have after school sports that I must attend as well. All-in-all, I personally believe that us students have been given it much harder than some past generations such as our parents. Others may disagree with me, however my opinion stands.

  • JH2001skater
    2/18/2015 - 01:01 p.m.

    They can study with each other and work on school work together. Also they could take the weekends off and hang out with friends then

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