- For the most part, on their own without daily parental supervision for perhaps the first time in their lives.
- Attempting to balance class work, a social life, and sometimes even part or full-time jobs while attempting to learn.
- Having to begin to make decisions as to long-term goals and their employment futures.
- Students in their first year of college are far less likely to be concerned about what department they will be earning a degree in, as they are required for the most part to take general education credits.
- Early choices of major are largely made without much real understanding and are likely to be change multiple times before a chosen field is settled on.
- While there are always majors that lead to higher paying jobs (medicine was one of them until the government recently decided to take it over), it is still the case that a degree in almost anything will do as a stepping stone to a better job.
- The economy that they will be looking at four years from now will, according to most predictions, be far better than today's; and far more likely to offer them greater opportunities.
- The availability of grants and low interest loans is far greater than at any time past, and it appears likely that the forgiveness for any such debt incurred will be far more likely in the days ahead if the government who now controls it has its way.
What I do agree with in the study however, is the conclusion that students "are arriving in college already overwhelmed and with lower reserves of emotional health". I would further suggest that they are arriving without the requisite educational tools to gain higher education. So perhaps instead, this study should be used as an indictment highlighting the failures of the education system at the college level as well as those we are increasingly becoming aware of in K-12.
Students ill-prepared academically in grade school will certainly experience stress as they enter middle school. Middle-schoolers whose education skills are not up to snuff will experience stress as they enter high school. It certainly follows that as those students graduate without the expertise required to take on advanced learning, they will feel even more stress when those failures become a hindrance to further educational achievement in college. (I was recently told a story by a friend who has returned to college that in the first day of class, a student asked the professor if papers submitted needed to be written in complete sentences.)
We must then ask ourselves who it is that trains the teachers that go on to instruct these young people in their first twelve years of education? Is not in some part the failure of those educators to provide basic skill sets required of their students not also a failure of the college professors who trained them to be teachers? Are today's professors themselves not also a product of the same failed education methodology at every level? Is not their failure yet another example (like the UCLA study) of a system that focuses far too much attention on the feelings and self-image of students and far too little on the acquisition of knowledge, the achievement of goals, and the ability to compete with others who are doing the same?
It seems however, that rather than admitting that they have failed to equip these young people to cope with the challenges presented by a university education in every way, the study simply hands them a victim button. Perhaps instead, it's time we told these young people the truth about life before they are forever thrust into it. It is and always has been a tough, competitive world out there; and you will have to work hard and compete in order to succeed. That may at times mean stress and perhaps even failure, but excuses in most cases will be neither accepted nor tolerated ... unless of course, one's long-term goal is to remain always a freshman.