4/15/2005

Mental Illness Among Grad Students

In an article entitled "The Pressure Mounts", by Carolyn Butler in the April 11, 2005 U.S. News and World Report (to which there is no hyperlink), Carolyn states that graduate students are under a termendous amount of stress, causing increased mental illness. A study of University of California-Berkeley granduate and professional schools indicated nearly half the students said they'd had an emotional or stress-related dilemma that sigmificantly impaired their well-being or academic performance in the past year, with 54% of all the students experiencing depression and 1 in 10 having seriously considered suicide. Similarly, a study of law students in the class of 2004 at two institutions found that 63% exhibited significantly higher levels of depression in their final year than they did when they began their professional education. "Students come to law school as quite highly motivated, idealistic, happy people, and then it crashes," says Lawrence Krieger, clinical professor at Flordia State University College of Law in Tallahassee. Graduate school with its competitive climate, relative seclusion in the lab or library, numerous financial concerns, and constant worries about future employment is a hot bed for potential psychosocial triggers. Are these problems on behalf of the schools, students or both? Are graduate schools to demanding or are students not prepared enough or both?

8 comments:

trudy said...

I do think that some people may not be cut out for the level of stress required for college. Especially with an increasing amount of students who work. If they can't hack it they should find something they can handle. I hate to say it, but someone has got to flip burger.

Bart said...

I think some Profs. push students to the edge on purpose and then they dont know when to let up. I think that people just need to step back and reevaluate whats important.

C-Dizzle said...

Sometimes I wonder if professors realize that students have other classes besides theirs. I find myself completely overwhelmed with the amounts of nonsense homework assignments we're given at school. There are many assignments that help but some teachers give tons of homework just so that they feel like they're doing something for the students.

As for me, I'll deal with the stress because I refuse to be the one "flipping the burger".

Dr. Tufte said...

-2 on Chuck's post and -1 on Bart's comment for multiple spelling errors.

I can attest that this is more or less correct about graduate students.

There is an alternative to this: raise the prices high enough so that some people filter themselves out of the market naturally. This actually isn't a problem because the prices are very high to begin with, but they are subsidized by governments. In some sense. governments are putting something on sale that people want but can't handle. If they did this with drugs we wouldn't have any trouble figuring out what the problem was. But we are in denial about education.

As to classwork, a 3 credit class should require 6-7 hours of work outside class per week. Before you all complain about me, I worked through school too, but the bottom line is that being a full time student is a full time job. If you are doing that and working a job, and are stressed about it, the problem is in the mirror.

Rose said...

Raising the tuition prices is not a solution, it's descrimination. As a society we are supposed to be evolving, not de-evolving. Filtering who can, and who cannot, attend graduate school based on how wealthy they are would be like going back in time. As a graduate student, I've seen several colleages drop out - sometimes after years of hard work. Those who aren't cut out for it, just won't finish. Natural selection already takes place on its own. People just have to realize their own limitations and work within them.

Anonymous said...

HW DISGUSTING DR TUFT WITH UR RATHER CONSERVATIVE ATTITUDE WITH REGARDS MONEY FOR EDUCATION. PLS RETHINK UR ATTITUDE AND MAYBE COME BACK WITH A BETTER STATEMENT.
RAISING FEES WIL CERTAINLY NOT HELP STUDENTS COPE WITH STRESS IT WILL JUST CAUSE MORE STRESS, LEARNING IS NOT ABOUT "WHO CAN AFFORD IT", ARE YOU REALLY A DR AS U SEEM TO HAVE LOST TOUCH WITH THE REAL WORLD.

Dr. Tufte said...

Oh my.

Last time I checked, getting into a particular major/program is voluntary.

So, what we need to address is why someone would volunteer for something that stresses them out.

I see 3 possible reasons: 1) they'll get rewarded when they're done, 2) they got a discount at the start, or 3) those running the program are sadistic.

If # 1 is the case, I don't see any reason to change things. But, if we do something to make the course of study less stressful, we'll probably get more entrants, and if so, the rewards will be divided more finely. I'm not sure the current and former stressed students would put up with this, since it might reduce their reward without changing the stress they've already been through.

If # 2 is the case, then the solution to stress is to reduce the discount (or make college cost more). The commenter is absolutely right that this method to reduce stress will also increase it, and I don't see any reason to think that one effect or the other is larger. Speaking from experience as a professor, I do see a lot of students who are stressed because frankly they've gotten themselves in over their heads. Higher prices would send them a useful signal.

If it is # 3, then by all means start throwing the professors out. This has been tried though, in various revolutionary movements in the 20th century. The results do not seem to have decreased stress in these countries.

The commenter would be helped by viewing these sort of trade-offs as analogous to a water balloon. If you squeeze one side, you get an effect on the other.

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