Causes of Stress Among College Students: Top 5

Being in college does not always mean a life of fun party or enjoyment, a picture that is usually painted when youngsters talk about going there. In fact, many college students are bombarded with the many cares of this life. Understanding the root causes of stress can better able one to deal with them. Prolonged stressful behavior is not healthy and I want to highlight the top five factors that I believe contribute to the stress that many college students face.

These Top Five are:

  1. Course Work
  2. Living Expenses
  3. Work-Study
  4. Borrowing Money to Repay Loans
  5. Intrapersonal Conflicts

Course Work/Load

Often times I hear students complain about the amount of assignments that they are given to complete. While students need to earn their degrees by studying and completing the assigned task given by lecturers, the fact is that some lecturers just give too many assignments.

The work must be done however overwhelming that it may seem. Thousands of dollars are paid each year to get the qualification needed.

It is said that God does not give us more than we can bear, but I must say that many students take up more than that which they can manage. If a student finds it challenging to take up 18 credits in a given semester it is advised to do less the next time around. It is better to get A’s and stay in college a little longer than to fail courses.

Sleepless nights are often the ply of students. Not getting enough rest due to long hours of studying and doing school work often leaves a student feeling stressed out and they become easily irritated and not able to concentrate.

Living Expenses

Even college students meet the challenges that normal working class people meet.  The cost of living is pretty high whether the student lives on the dormitory or off-campus in a nearby community.

For those who live on dorm living expenses and meal plan is usually included when paying tuition among other fees. This can be pretty expensive. The student would get their meals at the cafeteria, restaurant or grocery store on campus.

This is usually given on an ID or specific shopping card. For those who live off campus, the same applies but with more responsibilities.

A student that has to take care of living expenses without assistance will be perplexed. At my school, I know many students who send themselves to college. Sometimes they do not know where the next meal is coming from or they owe their landlords up to five months rent.

This prevents the student from being focused on their studies as he or she is constantly thinking of ways how they can come up with the funds to clear the bills.

The diagram illustrates what a student’s budget might look like.


Many college students find themselves in a position where they have to work and study in order to send themselves to school. I have been in the position before. It can be very challenging.

Work and study lessen the financial burdens that one may have but on the other hand, balancing the books with work is not as easy as it may seem.

This has contributed to the stress levels with those who do this. Work often times take precedence over school work seeing that the student is very much concerned about how the school fees will be paid.

Students who tend to work while studying will often times find themselves doing less amount of credits for the semester than what they intended to and spend a longer time in college.

Also the (A) grade that is often aimed for becomes harder to attain even though many manage to get good grades. Amidst the negative impacts, a research was carried out by my college: Northen Caribbean University and it was proven that students who work and study get better grades. These students are better at managing their time and are more focused at achieving their goals.

Borrowing Money to Repay Debts

Borrowing money is something that most persons don’t like doing. The agreement upon which the money was borrowed can say a lot. The lender may need it to be repaid with interest and the longer the student takes to repay the more stressed he or she may become.

Also, if the person that the money is borrowed from constantly nags about getting back the money, the student will find themselves thinking of ways  in which he or she can come up with the money.

The cost of education is not cheap and this fact leads students to borrow loans. Not instantly receiving jobs to cover these debts causes students to live a life of uneasiness and this can lead farther than stress but to depression.

Intrapersonal Stressors

These are conflicts that arise due to the individuals own ideas, beliefs, value system and internal issues that a person has. These inner struggles can affect the relationship that one has  with parents, the opposite sex, spouse, girlfriend, boyfriend, roommate, classmates and others. example- Student trying to decide whether to go to the party or stay home and do assignments or whether or not to get married to an engaged spouse while  in college.

This also has to do with the person’s personality style and how the go about solving their problem. Making life changing decisions can cause college students to become frustrated.

Mindset towards attaining a degree and the steps taken to achieve this can tell the amount of stress a student will have.


Here are tips to managing stress: Managing Stress

Feel free to share your comments on the issue below.


  1. Hi Nichole,

    Well done for this great post. I wish someone had written for me some of these things way back then.

    Is there somewhere on your website that you mention ways of overcoming these hardships. How are you helping someone who is facing any of the above to overcome these challenges?

    Kind regards


  2. Thank you, Ronnie. I am happy that this was helpful to you. Being able to identify stressors and finding ways to tackle them is of utmost importance. At the end of the post, there is a link that leads to tips that one can use to manage stress.

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