How Financial Stress Is Affecting College Students

Findings by the National Survey of Student Engagement have shed new light on the lives of modern college students. Among the findings is the fact that most college students are very worried about how to pay for their education and around one-third do not buy all required school materials because they cannot afford them.

How Big Is the Problem?

The financial stress is highest for students who work 20 or more hours each week. Sixty percent said their academic performance suffers because of their job, but most still consider trying to work increased hours. As tuition across the country continues to rise, finances are certain to be an ever-growing concern for students.

Students who are forced to work while attending school are tired, spend less time studying, and tend to multitask during classes. This multitasking often includes using Facebook and other social media to catch up with friends and family during class time. While this may not seem so bad, the survey showed that students who do such activities during classes are lower performers and report feeling less satisfied with the college experience.

About the Survey

The report, entitled “Promoting Student Learning and Institutional Improvement: Lessons from NSSE at 13—Annual Results 2012,” compiled data from 285,000 college freshmen and seniors at over 500 colleges and universities across the nation.

Analyses show that many steps colleges and universities are taking are showing positive results. Higher-order thinking, knowledge from more than one source, and high-impact experiences are proving to enhance the college experience.

The NSSE project aims to help improve undergraduate education by providing valuable information to schools. Over the past 13 years, the survey has shown very positive trends for 50% of freshmen and around 33% of seniors at over 400 schools. This shows that change is possible and can happen at any size and type of school.

Maybe this trend will continue and colleges will take note of the detrimental effect of financial stress on college students. This may influence positive steps toward lowering tuition, offering increased aid, and helping students manage the costs of earning a degree. Until then, college students will continue to meet the stereotype of ramen noodle-eating strugglers.




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