Many of today’s college students grew up in an age of “helicopter parenting.” We regularly see reports and data that point to a population of higher education students who struggle to manage common challenges and crises.
The Chronicle of Higher Education recently published a series, “An Epidemic of Anguish,” that explores the growing demands on campus counseling resources, and the subsequent challenges faculty and staff face. In a recent interview with National Public Radio (heard here), Robin Wilson shares highlights of her series on this college mental health crisis, along with some explanations for the increase in student need. In her interview, Wilson says that many students come to college having already been treated – sometimes from a very young age – and come to college expecting to receive the same support or treatment on campus that they did in private practice. As well, Wilson shares, many students are accustomed to others (parents, teachers, etc.) removing their life obstacles for them – they lack coping mechanisms needed to manage the stress of college life.
Worth Publisher’s co-author of Psychology, Seventh Edition, Dr. Peter Gray, is a contributor for Psychology Today’s blog. Check out his latest post, “Declining Student Resilience: A Serious Problem for Colleges.” Dr. Gray talks about the neediness of students, and how that directly impacts academic life. Dr. Gray notes, “Faculty at the meetings noted that students’ emotional fragility has become a serious problem when it comes to grading. Some said they had grown afraid to give low grades for poor performance, because of the subsequent emotional crises they would have to deal with in their offices. Many students, they said, now view a C, or sometimes even a B, as failure, and they interpret such “failure” as the end of the world.” Aside from the obvious academic questions, Dr. Gray questions the impact to today’s student’s ability to develop socially, emotionally, or to cope with the possible resulting anxiety or depression. He argues that they are unable to problem solve without help.
The difficult question faced by college administrators, faculty, staff, and counseling services moving forward is: do we recognize their struggle to manage difficult emotional and psychological stress and adjust our approach to higher education, or do we forge ahead with our own trusted academic experience?
Have you seen a decrease in students’ ability to deal with the everyday bumps of college life, and how does this impact the way you teach your courses and assess your students?