by Mackenzie Conner
Photograph courtesy of Alejandra Aristeguieta
Mid-semester stress has arrived on Boston Unviersity’s campus with midterms, a countdown until the holidays and a great desire for sleep all in tow. More and more BU students are starting to hit burnout and are aggressively prioritizing which assignments must absolutely be done, which ones can wait and where sleeping, eating and socializing can fit into their schedules. The days, for many, are far too short to complete all that needs to be done, and often students are left to stay up into the early hours of the morning studying while sleep deprived and stressed.
If you are one of these students, you might ask yourself, as you sleepily make your way through campus, “Am I more stressed than my peers?”
This is a valid question. After all, it's easy enough to gauge how your friends in shared classes are feeling, but what about the people that you don't see in class? Do they struggle to get out of bed in the mornings as much as you do? Are their classes as rigorous as yours, and could you have made college easier on yourself by majoring in something else?
The simple answer: probably not.
College, regardless of what you study, is going to be difficult and stressful. Largely, it is a time for engaging in the world of academia, but for most undergraduate students, it's also a time to learn many of those "tough life lessons" that your parents warned you about. The truth is that while your studies are the emphasis of your time in college, there are countless other factors that could be causing you to stress.
According to the study published in the College Student Journal’s "Sources of Stress Among College Students", "the five most frequent stressors were, in order: change in sleeping habits (89 percent), vacations/breaks (87 percent), change in eating habits (74 percent), new responsibilities (73 percent) and increased class workload (73 percent)...Financial difficulties (71 percent) and change in social activities (71 percent) were also frequently reported stressors."
This information goes to show that there are far more stressors at play than you might realize and that they are shared by over fifty percent of students.
Also, consider this: students might stress in college for reasons related to their year in the school, not their major. What might cause stress for an underclassman might be drastically different than what causes stress for upperclassmen.
Mike Muschello (CAS ’18), a senior studying economics, notes that most people get stressed about academics, but his particular stress stems from his approaching graduation, growing disinterest in his major and how he will eventually apply what he knows to his field.
"It’s hard to get yourself motivated when you’re not interested in what you’re studying,” said Muschello. “There were plenty of times I have felt like what I'm studying didn’t matter that much or interest me which caused me to feel like I wouldn’t do as well in class and confused me about the future I have with this degree."
Meanwhile, Flora Kwok (Questrom ’21) thinks her stressors are from something else entirely.
"It's an entirely new responsibility to have to watch out for myself—there's no one to tell me when to eat or when to sleep or when to do laundry,” said Kwok. “It's a whole other aspect that I have to learn to balance with my school work and sometimes it can get overwhelming,"
The difference is life experience. Trying to compare anyone else's stress to your own is like comparing apples and oranges. Both are fruit, but beyond that, the similarities are few and far between.
We have no way of knowing that what might be stressful to you or what might not be to one of your peers or anyone in general, so as the second half of the semester begins, be kind to yourself and others in stress. You might be less stressed because of it.