(Article first published as Emotional Health of Incoming Freshmen at an All-Time Low on Technorati.)
This year college educators are bracing themselves for a growing challenge in the classroom. According to an annual survey conducted by the University of California, Los Angeles, involving more than 200,000 freshmen at 279 four-year colleges and universities, the emotional health of college freshmen hit an all-time low this academic year. The report was released Wednesday.
According to the findings, 52% percent of the students rated their emotional health high or above average, down from 64% in 1985 and down 3.4% from 2009. Some colleges and universities are being proactive and putting initiatives in place to help students who exhibit problems, but teachers are the first line of defense since they are the ones who observe the students regularly in a classroom setting. On the other hand, teachers are not as equipped to detect signs of emotional struggle as they are in the area of teaching.
According to the findings, female students reported lower levels of emotional health than male students did; forty-six percent of the former compared with 59 percent of the latter. A student’s emotional health is important because it bears on his or her ability to succeed academically, and if due attention is not given to emotional problems, other complications will follow.
The findings of the study suggest that the state of our economy contributed to the all-time low of the emotional health of incoming freshmen. For instance, 4.9% of the students reported that their fathers were unemployed, also an all-time high. Plus, the number of freshmen reporting unemployed mothers, 8.6%, also continued to increase. College is already stressful for freshmen. It’s the time when many of them leave home and their longtime friends for the first time. Even if they attend college locally, they all have to adapt to college life. The peer pressure there can be fierce. Though students believe that a college education will help them get a better paying job, the cost of a college education continues to rise, and the current job market for recent college graduates does not paint a pretty picture of employment possibilities for these freshmen upon graduation.
In the report, the students are self-rated. Their feelings about their emotional health were not subject to the assessment of health professionals. But that’s why we should take heed. Real or imagined, a growing percentage of our teens in college believe they are less than emotionally sound. That makes the problem real.