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12 Alarming College Student Stress Statistics [2020 Edition]

Going to college is one more step towards becoming a responsible adult. And responsibilities can often lead to stress, as the latest college student stress statistics make abundantly clear. 

The thing is:

College campus is a totally new environment for freshmen. They get to meet new people and live apart from their parents, often for the first time, all while experiencing the “college life.” 

On the one hand, it can be truly riveting.

On the other hand, it can be quite stressful. Managing stress in college is no laughing matter.


With that amount of new pressure and expectations, students are forced to look for ways to relax, even though sometimes relaxing means alcohol and drug abuse. 

You might be wondering:

How stressed are college students?

Let’s look at some of the most fascinating stats and facts to find out.

Worrying Student Stress Statistics (Editor’s Choice)

  • About 8.2% of students reported having Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
  • The most common health issues involve sinus infection, strep throat, migraines, and UTIs.
  • As of 2018, about 1.3% of students were diagnosed with bulimia (0.6% not treated), and 1.7% of students are diagnosed with anorexia.
  • 13% of college university students in the US have contemplated suicide, college students and stress statistics reveal.
  • 24% of students think about their future employment issues.
  • Homework is the main cause of stress for about 13% of college students.
  • About 20% of college students meet the criteria for alcohol use disorder (AUD)

What Makes College Students so Stressed?

1. The total student loan debt in 2020 reached $1.6 trillion.

(Source: Forbes)

Student debt is only one of the causes of student stress

About 45 million students collectively owe a mind-blowing $1.6 trillion. This makes student debt the second-highest consumer debt category, right behind mortgage debts. The average student loan debt is about $32,000. 

As if that’s not enough: 

56% of applicants for loan forgiveness were denied for payments that don’t qualify. 24% of college students were denied due to missing information.

2. 24% of college students worry about job prospects. 

(Source: MentalHelp;

And rightfully so. One of the more troublesome facts about stress in college is that a college diploma does not guarantee you will get a job. 

According to college student statistics, approximately 53% of college graduates are unemployed or work at jobs that don’t require a degree. This can raise the level of stress in college students significantly. 

There’s a potential benefit for those students with previous experience. The job-seeking strategy also plays a huge role in potential employment. 

3. About 8.2% of students reported having ADHD.

(Source: ADDitudeMag)

ADHD can affect a student’s life in more ways than one. It’s an issue when getting accommodation. ADHD can also affect the studying processes, so it’s directly linked to academic performance. This leads to more students being stressed in college.

And if that’s not enough:

4. According to finals week stress statistics, 31% of students have their stress levels go up during finals. 

(Source: MentalHelp; Mental Floss)

Midterms and finals are making college students overwhelmed, making them wonder how to deal with college stress.

And it’s no wonder: 

Students aim to pass their exams with high grades, but one subject can take their focus off other schoolwork. 

But even before midterms and finals come around, there’s regular course work, which leads us to the next issue.

5. 13% of college students say homework is the main cause of stress, according to college student stress statistics.

(Source: How to Learn)

Think about it: 

Homework in college can take up as much time as a full-time job. This also leads to higher levels of stress in college students

The general rule is that one college credit equals one hour in the classroom and two to three hours of homework each week. 

A full-time student sits in the classroom for 15 hours a week and studies at home for about 30 to 45 hours. All for a 15 credit course. 

What Are the Effects of College Stress on Students’ Health?

6. 23.5% of college students suffer from anxiety, and 18.9% suffer from depression.

(Source: Statista; Psycom)

Anxiety and depression have become almost an epidemic among college students, depression in college students statistics reveal. 

But why? 

The increased use of social media and competition among young adults, parental pressure, and the lack of empathy from professors are the chief culprits.

Judging by college mental health statistics, these issues have reached such levels that college counselors are often overwhelmed by the sheer number of stressed-out students seeking help. 

Still, there are some students who never turn to professional assistance.

7. The most common health issues for college students involve sinus infection, strep throat, and UTIs.  

(Source: Statista; Education)

The effects of stress on college students reflect on their well-being. Many college students move into dorms, so their exposure to health risks increases. With the lack of sleep and easy access to drugs and alcohol, infections are on the rise. This is an additional reason for college students to be stressed.

Luckily, universities offer health center services where students can get over the counter medication or even prescriptions. 

8. As of 2018, about 1.3% of students suffered from bulimia, and 1.7% were diagnosed with anorexia, college students stress statistics reveal.

(Source: Healthline)

Eating disorders can signify some other underlying issues a person is going through. And college students are particularly prone to developing bad eating habits. Major life changes often trigger binge eating. College students often don’t know how to handle stress in college, so they turn to junk food.

They also don’t look for help, even though their issues can be easier to solve early on.

9. Eight in ten college students experience frequent stress.   


Students’ independence allows them to develop as people. At the same time, it brings more issues to their table. Some of them include financial difficulties, lack of sleep, interpersonal pressure, and the absence of a support system. Bullying can also happen. 

According to statistics about the effects of stress in college, high-stress levels in students result in negative academic performance.

And it gets worse:   

10. 54.9% of full-time college students report consuming alcohol in the past month.

(Source: National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism)

Students often try to reduce college stress with alcohol. And the consequences are not to be ignored. 

Here’s why:

More than 1,800 students have died from alcohol-related injuries (vehicle crashes included). What’s more, 97,000 students ages 18 to 24 report alcohol-related sexual assault. Additionally, a staggering 696,000 students in the same age span are assaulted by their peers. 

About 20% of college students meet the criteria for alcohol use disorder (AUD), according to college student stress statistics

11. About 25% of college students use Adderall to focus.

(Source: The Michigan Daily)

Drug abuse in stressed college students is not an uncommon issue. The pressures of college life make students want to take stimulants to score better. 

One such drug is Adderall, a central nervous stimulant that improves focus. Students who suffer from ADHD are prescribed Adderall regularly. Other students often take it so that they can complete their tasks and schoolwork faster.

However, only 8.9% reported that they bought the drug with a prescription. The rest got it from their peers on campus.

12. According to statistics on stress in college students, 13% of students have seriously thought about committing suicide.

(Source: The Conversation)

In one of the most alarming developments, the suicide rate among young adults has tripled since 1950, along with the levels of anxiety in college students

Suicide is the second most common cause of death among them. College stress statistics tell a grim tale of young adults thinking about taking their own life due to the seeming lack of other solutions. 36.7% is not a number that should be ignored. 

College Student Stress Statistics - stressed girl


Q: What are the biggest stressors for college students today?  


College stress statistics tell us that academic stress, the amount of homework, and professors’ demands are the key stressors. These are followed by facing transition to adulthood, combined with family pressure, and financial obligations. These are only some of the reasons why college students are so stressed. The lack of sleep is another issue, as it’s directly related to increased stress levels and decreased performance.

Q: What is the most stressful college major? 


STEM majors are some of the most stressful college majors in the US, with Biology, Computer Science, Civil and Mechanical engineering leading the way as the hardest ones. 

Here’s why:

Biology demands knowledge of chemistry, biochemistry, and microbiology. Computer Science involves calculus, algorithms, and statistics. 

Q: How do college students manage stress? 

(Source: BigFuture College Board)

Luckily, there’s a variety of ways a college student can manage college stress. The first option can be talking with a residential advisor. The other way to reduce stress in college is by visiting free college counseling. These trained professionals are there to give a piece of expert advice on bigger issues, such as depression and higher levels of college related stress.

They can also refer college students to off-campus mental health professionals.

Q: Which activity was proven to reduce stress in college students?   

(Source: College Raptor)

Stress relief tips for college students include getting emotional support as a number one way to feel relief. Getting enough sleep must become a top priority. Eating healthy might affect a student’s budget, but it’s an absolute necessity to maintain good health.

Other tips include exercising, avoiding unnatural energy boosts, and unwinding with too much alcohol.

Instead, students can try meditation or listen to relaxing music.

Summing up Stress Levels in College Students

Parents are proud to see their children go to college. And from a college student’s point of view, it’s one of the greatest events in their lives, especially if they get into the desired college.

In many ways it’s amazing:

Moving out and getting to explore the wonders of freedom on campus for many young adults is cool.

But there’s a downside to it: 

Often, students don’t think about the magnitude of their new responsibilities. Once they get their textbooks and start attending classes, they realize the massive amount of work they must do. And this can only add up to students’ stress.

Student stress statistics say that the pressure of obligations leads to a lack of sleep. That’s why students often turn to drug and alcohol abuse, thinking it will calm them down and give them focus. What they don’t realize is that the move will almost guarantee their failure in college.

What’s the bottom line?

College student stress statistics show that these issues must not be ignored. The level of stress in college students is at an all-time high, and we urgently have to do something to address it.


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