What Are The Causes of Stress Among College Students?

For college students, sometimes, stress can be that push they need to leave their comfort zone and be at their best. However, stress can affect the physical and mental health of students when it is too much. To check stress among college students effectively, you need to know its origin. And in this article, we have discussed the causes of stress among college students.

What Are The Causes of Stress Among College Students?

Causes of Stress Among College Students

Causes of Stress among college students can be from different factors, including academics, pressure from family, financial challenges, peer influence, deadlines, insufficient sleep, and change of environment. Here, we’ll consider each of these causes in more detail.

#1. Academic Activities

College students usually have lots of academic activities to handle, and that makes up a significant part of the stress they suffer. They may have one or more tasking assignments to do for each subject, causing them to commit to hours of in-depth research. At other times, they may engage in intense reading in preparation for tests or exams or trying to meet up with the extensive course loads. 

#2. Pressure From Family

Most college students are under pressure from their parents to make outstanding grades. While trying to challenge their wards to be the best is not bad, some parents create extremely high expectations. This often puts the children under undue pressure. 

The resultant effect of this kind of pressure usually goes beyond physical stress to mental exhaustion. Also, a troubled home may not be the best place for a college student to thrive. Students from homes where parents are irresponsible or usually have fights are more likely to suffer mental stress.

#3. Financial Pressure

Some college students lack adequate financial support for their education, leading them to take jobs to meet up with the financial requirements. From searching for suitable jobs to shuffling between jobs, combining work and school is stressful.

The mental calculations towards offsetting the loan alone can be distracting, plus the thought of having to spend years of your life paying off a loan. Again, sometimes, the student may take up more than one job to meet up, which causes more stress.

#4. Peer Influence 

Stress among college students can also be linked to relationships with their peers. For example, attempts to “fit in” or get people to like them can put them under undue competition and, consequently, more pressure. 

Assume a specific dressing code identifies the “happening folks” in school. Some other students who may not have the financial capacity to dress that way may feel less, forcing them to engage in immoral activities to meet up. However, peer influence can also be positive. Having friends who are performing exceptionally well and wanting to be like them can put a student under stress.

#5. Time Management

The inability to handle time effectively is a major challenge for some college students. Aside from having academic activities, students also have some home chores or extracurricular activities to attend to. Trying to balance all these may demand extra effort and imply more stress for the students.

#6. Insufficient Sleep

Some students, especially the “book worms,” consider the nighttime the best time to read their books. Their reason is usually that the serenity of the nighttime allows them to assimilate easily.

Although this may be true in some cases, it might cause the student to burn out when it becomes a norm. Research has shown that poor sleeping habits are one of the leading causes of stress. 

Sleep helps the brain refuel after some strenuous activities and enables memory consolidation. This means that students need to get enough sleep to enable their brains to function maximally.

#7. Change of Environment

Some students go as far as leaving their country of residence to attend college, and sometimes, they find it challenging to adapt to the new environment. Common causes of stress, in this case, include environmental factors such as weather/climate and social lifestyle.

What Are Some Ways College Students Can Manage Stress?

Stress management is a set of techniques to keep stress low to facilitate healthy living. Some ways college students can manage stress include:

  • Exercise

Regular exercise not only helps us keep fit, but also promotes mental health. Exercise enables the brain to produce neurotransmitters called endorphins. Endorphins, also called feel-good neurotransmitters, are responsible for making us feel good.

  • Eating healthy meals

A balanced diet enables the release of cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that releases glucose into the blood so that the body and brain can have sufficient energy to function. Good nutrition also supports a healthy immune system to reduce susceptibility to viruses and diseases.

  • Getting enough sleep

Especially for those students who are all-nighters, sufficient sleep is necessary. Good sleep helps the brain to relax and recharge. Getting enough sleep also enables muscle repair and memory consolidation.

  • Talk to someone when they feel mentally exhausted

Maintaining good connections can be highly beneficial at times when a college student feels mentally exhausted. These friends can provide solid support for them, by sharing their burdens and encouraging them.

  • Avoid the use of hard drugs and alcohol

The use of hard drugs and alcohol is not advisable for college students. While some students find it a therapy for stress relief, it can jeopardize mental health. Indulging in these drugs can lead to addiction which causes the student to lose the ability to control their activities effectively.


For college students, stress has both school-associated and external triggers. However, with the knowledge of the causes of stress among college students, students can learn how to keep stress at its barest minimum. Overall, proper stress management is a foundational approach to maintaining a healthy life as a college student.

Frequently Asked Questions 

#1. What is Stress?

Stress simply refers to a feeling of physical or emotional anxiety.

#2. Are There Physical Symptoms to Tell that a College Student is Stressed?

When college students are overly stressed, they may begin to manifest some physical symptoms. These include fatigue, forgetfulness, drug intake, insomnia, weight loss, or weight gain.

#3. What are the Health Risks of Stress Among College Students?

Some health risks of stress are depression, skin problems such as acne, obesity, high blood pressure, and other heart-related diseases.

#4. Does Medication Help in Relieving Stress?

Normally, the first approach to handling stress should be natural. However, medication can come in when all attempts to treat stress the natural way have failed. But then, ensure that you don’t self-medicate. A health expert should administer the medication.