University student stress/Burge2009

After rating a 22-item academic stressor checklist, students were asked "What other university-related factors contribute to your stress?". Responding was optional. Here's the 282 responses (approx. 60% response rate)

Source: Burge, J. (2009). Coping frequency, coping effectiveness, and personality factors in university students. Unpublished Honours thesis, University of Canberra, Australia).

See also Word cloud of this data (Wordle):

  1. 2 full time jobs & looking after my brother.
  2. a lack of motivation
  3. A number of assignments due at the one time or very close together. Heavy reading load.
  4. A personal tendency to procrastinate, and getting diverted by social commitments
  5. Adding classes it was confusing.
  6. All forms of assessment - exams, assignments etc
  7. ambuguity in teaching, as well as support services (eg student admin).
  8. Amount of time allocated to lectures, intensive mode allows for about 25 hours lecture time a semester.
  9. Back pain, Not understanding structure, stupidly placed classrooms which aren't in chronological order
  10. Bad time planning by lecturers and Students. Being a part time student full time worker means that I have to manage my time very carefully. It doesn't help when contact hours start to late en run over time...
  11. Badly constructed assignments - some of them are very badly worded; omit key details such and length/time; no or simplistic marking criteria provided; questions that seem to ask one question but the tutor/lecturer, upon questioning actually wants something different; disparity between tutorials between what is taught/discussed/required or informatino 'mentioned in passing'. working with International students in group assignments who clearly have not passed
  12. Badly managed administration - ie not getting a student card, not being able to enroll online, online systems that crash...
  13. Balancing academic commitments with employment
  14. Balancing full time work with full time study
  15. Balancing full time workload, pregnancy and study.
  16. Balancing my employment with studying.
  17. Balancing paid work in order to meet cost of living with commitments at uni.
  18. Balancing study commitments, work and family. Being sure that I am on the right track
  19. Balancing study with work commitments, and generally finding time for exercise, sleep and recreation on top of work and study.
  20. Balancing work and study, sometimes I feel like I don't manage to do either that well.
  21. Balancing work commitments.
  22. Balancing work, study and family can be a struggle.
  23. balancing work/ uni/ social life. Having to work to support yourself while also studying full time.
  24. balancing work/life/study is hard, and at times i just end up giving up one or the other completely.
  25. Being a Carer
  26. Being a fulltime mum of small children and studying at the same time.
  27. Being a mature age student with children and a full-time job.
  28. Being a mid-year student. Most people I am studying with are already in their second semester.
  29. Being a mother and worker and keeping healthy relationships
  30. being away from family and friends. having to do prac, as well as attend uni
  31. being homesick.
  32. Being in a generally older age group
  33. Being unable to use moodle and osis after you have been told a time when it would be back up and running and gets changed to five days on
  34. Bullying by some staff
  35. can not follow the tutor in tutorial
  36. Car Parking
  37. Combining uni with work, stresses outside uni eg. family
  38. Competition among peers, some people are really smart and that puts me down when I can't think to their level.
  39. Cost of materials and resourses for required output for assessments. Lack of facilities for architecture students. Not enought face to face time with lectures.
  40. day care arrangements for children
  41. Dealing with unit convenors who are not supportive of student concerns
  42. Demands at work
  43. Demands from outside of uni responsibilities, eg children
  44. Doing five units a semester.
  45. Doing the course on-line - stress levels go up when computer issues slow down access to course materials.
  46. Employment outside uni.
  47. English as a second language
  48. English communication writing and oral skills
  49. english skill
  50. external pressures, like work from other jobs. not enough time to do everything
  51. Faculty rule that says if your work is at all late you will only be marked pass/fail with no comments - this is appalling given that we are paying to learn people must work and sometimes things come up - I thinks students should be able to choose to take a penalty ie 5% and be late if life dictates such
  52. Falling behind in the work for units, because at uni it is so much harder to catch up once you're behind.
  53. Falling ill, having to miss classes
  54. Family circumstances
  55. Family issues (recent death of Grandad and split of parents)
  56. Financial Burdens, eg: fuel, textbooks, HECS, living expenses, lack of hours to be able to work. Unrealistic subjects that don't help me in the classroom.
  57. finding a balance of work uni and social life.
  58. Finding a carpark Studying while working full time in a middle management position
  59. finding class rooms
  60. Finding field placements and negotiating individual learning contracts
  61. Finding parking, disagreeing with lecturers and tutors, finding somewhere to live.
  62. finding the time i need to do my course justice
  63. Finding the time to fit in study around work requirements and home life is becoming increasingly difficult
  64. fitting in full time work and single parenting of 2 kids
  65. fitting in my uni schedule with current and future employment working times
  66. Fitting study in around work
  67. friend who dominate in the class participatin make me down
  68. friendship issues
  69. Full time work and study!
  70. Full time work.
  71. Generally it is only a little bit stressful to moderately stressful at uni. However, this changes during the time period when a lot of units require work to be handed in at the same time.
  72. group work assignments are very stressful
  73. Group work presentations tend to stress me out, no-one ever pulls their weight.
  74. Group work with dumb and lazy students dumb course convenors who are crap at lecturing
  75. hanging around waiting for next tute or something like that
  76. Have not established friends
  77. Havin to do fit work in with uni
  78. having a full time job as well as studying full time (work night shifts)
  79. Having a large percentage of the assessment in one assignment, e.g 60% at the end of the term on an assignment with no exam.
  80. having different computer operating system at home, lectures at cit straight after a lecture at uc
  81. Having to get enough feedback before starting the final model, and still not being overly pleased with it.
  82. Having to work and go to university as well as being able to afford to live independently, and buy expensive textbooks etc
  83. Having to work to live and support oneself whilst also trying to get good grades to hopefully get into post-grad couse/ honours. Thinking about how i'll manage honours year- live out of home, work, eat survive etc.
  84. Having to work, trying to spend time with family and doing well at university and trying to juggle all of them as well as trying to stay healthy.
  85. Health
  86. Health issues, especially in Winter!
  87. Health problems
  88. Health. Living on campus there is a lot of alcohol consumed so balancing health, and academia I find stressful.
  89. High pressure periods such as class free when a volume of work is due. Also preparation for examinations. Balancing competing priorities very difficult at times. I also find it stressful working in groups with other students who do not perform at the same level.
  90. Home and family issues
  91. Home Life, having young children and a moody wife that is currently pregnant
  92. House mates, as I have nothing in common with most of them (one in particular) and therefore cannot gel in a social capacity. Having a mature age student also makes me feel discouraged from playing guitar (my stress relief) even though he is a good person.
  93. Hygiene.
  94. I am currently working full time and studying full time, so the entire workload and fitting in study time is very stressful.
  95. I am doing fulltime study as a mature age student while being a single mother to 2 children age 4 & 8.
  96. I am part-time student working full time. There is no consideration for students of this nature, e.g. lack of online facilities, assumptions that I will be at university during the day, etc. This causes the greatest amount of stress for me in my university studies.
  97. I am still working in a full-time job and bringing up two adolescent children with my husband (also working full-time).
  98. I am studying online - sometimes it is harder to determine expectations than when you are face to face
  99. I commute from Goulburn - the time spent driving on top of study time makes this a stressful experience. The other major factor is the practical component of my degree, and lecturers who are not living up to expectations of students.
  100. I don't intend to be a part of the western world and achieve all of the things that it so frequently tells me are important. I find my differing desires mean that I am frustrated with a lot of the 'hoops' I am required to jump through which have nothing to do with life or death.
  101. I don't want to be here at all - but if I dropped out I would feel like a failure. I'm between a rock and a hard place...
  102. I find that each division has different ways of marking and expectations. I get distinction grade for an essay say in a nursing subject but get a pass for essay in nutritional science.
  103. I have four children under 8 years old, a husband who works shift work and a job that requires my attention for 30-hours a week (minimum). Therefore, I do not have the freedom to just go to uni for the whole day and go from class -to library-to lecture - to lunch etc. Everything I do has to fit into a tight schedule and be flexible to cope with kids needs also.
  104. I have two children, one of whom is studying at university and the other who will be studying next year. It is difficult to manage time, money and a part-time job; while also trying to pay my fees and my assist my children pay their own fees. However I love university life and appreciate it much more than when I was younger. I see the "problems" as challenges more than actual problems.
  105. I only find myself stressed when i have more than one thing due at the same time. And if im not prepared.
  106. i think everything has been mentioned above
  107. i think my family life contributes alolt to my stress at uni, i have a 5 week old baby
  108. I work full time is a high pressure role and find it hard to sustain a high alert level and remain focussed for the entirity of classes
  109. I work full time so time management and work/life/uni balance is my major concern.
  110. I work full time to support my family, fitting study in is a little stressful but I am developing techniques and making time for my course load.
  111. I work full time, as well as studing at TAFE, and with a fairly hectic exercise trainning schedule
  112. I work full time, study full time, have a mortgage. so have no spare time
  113. I'm mature age and am juggling study along with family and part-time work. It's only a bit stressful at peak points though, eg submitting an essay or studying for an exam.
  114. Inconsistant expectations of post graduate lecturers
  115. Insecurities about academic abilities.
  116. Intensive units: fitting a semester worth of learning into 5 weeks. Doesn't work!
  117. It has been difficult to find a time balance between my job and studying because I do not get centrelink I need to be able to pay all my bills myself.
  118. it is a shit university
  119. Its all the reading journals, case studies, assignment, essays and on top of it reading the chapters from books does not give much time for anything else but we have to cook, clean and wash for ourselves this all contributes to high stress level
  120. I've found it stressful to make new friends- as there are so many different options for study time and classes it is hard to find and make close friends
  121. Job commitments
  122. Juggling other commitments especially employment demands.
  123. Juggling work and study.
  124. Juggling work commitments and extra-curricular activities designed to further my career. No time!
  125. just mainly assesment, doing work, getting around and trying to fit in a job as well
  126. Just writing essay's and the amount of reading. Not enough time to do all the readings, then to discover I don't need that information.
  127. Lack of classroom resources
  128. Lack of communication with CIT as i am doing a course half CIT and half UC and they dont communicate well so things clash then i have to work it out
  129. Lack of consideration for part time students who work
  130. lack of consideration/cooperation from some parties in accomodating the particularly difficult task of undertaking a cross-institutional degree
  131. lack of fun sports on campus
  132. Lack of help from some lecturers/course convenors regarding information
  133. Lack of motivation and an unclear career path ahead. Uncertainty in degree choice.
  134. Lack of pop-up books.
  135. Lack of resources
  136. Lack of resources (particularly software) Isolation
  137. lack of skills taught to complete assignments, unrealistic timeframes, large workloads. expectation that you have no life exept uni-eg that you will work all night before submissions.
  138. Lack of staff support for students, ie my lecturers often fail to answer emails and are not willing to be available for more than 1 hour a week
  139. Lack of structure between lectures and tutorials. Tutorial tests that are assessed. Lack of communication between lecturers and tutors, lack of specif help.
  140. Lack of support for mature age students/acceptance by the majority of younger/teenage students. It's not about making friends it's the fact you're not acknowledged and as there are not many mature aged students doing a similar degree/units it can make it very hard. It's all about perserverance, trying to remain focused on your goal and maintaining a sense of self and a sense of humour. This helps to reduce stress levels.
  141. Lack of support from university staff Lack of flexibility for students working full time / with a family to support
  142. Lack of time and money.
  143. Lack of time for partner
  144. Lack of time, unable to be flexible sometimes
  145. Lack of time.
  146. Large groupwork assignemnts. Juggling full-time work with part-time study.
  147. late feedback from assignments inconsistency of marking between lecturers
  148. Laziness/lack of study
  149. Learning online- can be stressful studying from another state as you can't just go find someone to ask a question or walk in to the library for research, you have to rely on other people responding in time etc.
  150. Leaving Full Time work and lufestyle to attend uni.
  151. lecturer not treating students with respect, not feeling able to discuss assignments without putting mark at risk.
  152. lecturers out of touch with younger students, teaching staff not realising that all students are not free all the time and have work commitments as well!
  153. life
  154. Livinf off Campus
  155. Living away from home Learning a language
  156. Living with anxiety/depression
  157. Living with other people, when i as living on a part of campus that didn't use cleaners, everyone was in each others faces about cleaning, i don't like the way some teachers react when you have an opinion different to theirs, i also don't like it how you can't drop out after a subject after the 4th week without getting a fail, i think it's really unfair because some classes you don't realise what they'll be like until you do the first assignment.
  158. Loneliness, it is hard to make friends in Canberra, timetables with large breaks (and selected tutorial rescheduling). Amount to read to get small amount of info in Nursing
  159. main stresses are being in an unfamiliar place away from everyone, financial stress mainly
  160. Mainly the timetabling - I work fulltime in a high pressure management position yet I am expected to attend university during work hours. This impacts terribly on work and creates a lot of stress, to the point where I struggle to focus in classes because I feel that I am better placed being at work during these times.
  161. making time for boyfriend/partner as well as maintianing a regular study pattern.
  162. Making time to do school work Whether or not to attend lectures
  163. Missing family in the US
  164. Money - petrol, clothing, time spent there and on placement
  165. Most of my stress originates from adapting to the university system, when things are unclear.
  166. mostly assessment workoad
  167. Mostly juggling full time work, part time studies and personal committments.
  168. my age and lack of a companion
  169. My being a carer
  170. My full-time job and family - finding a practical work/home/uni balance.
  171. my inability to start something before the due date.
  172. My other intrests and commitments
  173. My own personal lack of discipline.
  174. My part time job
  175. my personal life, e:g; my family is far away from me.they r in overseas right now. when I think about my dad who was passed away a year ago. I don't've job at this moment and my hubby's income is not well we cant spend whatever we wish to buy.
  176. My study habits. I leave everything to the last minuet as i need a crushing deadline to tap into my creativity.
  177. Needing to work in order to earn money, but not having enough time to work due to academic workload.
  178. New environmnet, Not knowing what I don't know, Moving from interstate to study
  179. No familiar Relatives
  180. Non-explanation and lack of honesty/relationship between lecturers and students.
  181. Not a very big social life, finding it very hard to make friends. Very expensive books and not enough aid.
  182. Not being able to access faciltiicies on campus after hours or on weekends. In particular very few courses are online. Also the library has little reading material and few resources so I often haev to make time to go to another library and do more research. Furthermore, lectureres are rarely avaiable and often do not know answers (ie next career move, different courses I could access) which means more research, more time spent doign research and more stress.
  183. Not being able to find a free computer to use in the library. The cost and logistics of photocopying and printing in the library. Administration e.g. enrolling in units. (Please note that my course doesn't involve exams. I answered 'not at all stressful above, but really there should have been a 'not applicable' option.)
  184. Not enough computers, Limited parking.
  185. Not enough sleep and being away from family and friends at home.
  186. not having a place to live and looking for a house. this plus trying to do several assessments is extremely stressful
  187. Not having a secure circle of friends and family around me all the time. Also from moving from a rural area to a very urban one is quite a change and not knowing where I am at all times.
  188. Not having enough time for everything like work, uni, sport, catching up with friends
  189. Not having many people that i know, who i can go to for support
  190. not knowing who to ask questions not having enough time for assignments
  191. not living at home or having a supportive family. Most unit convenors were not very flexible towards those who have to put work first in order to live
  192. not understanding what I have to present about or do an essay about
  193. Not working...
  194. Nothing else really.
  195. Organising my work/research. Managing time and work load
  196. Other aspects of my life such as part time work contribute to pressure and stress of uni in particular managing my time effectively. Finding a balance between all aspects of my life has an impact on the stress of uni.
  197. outside stressors such as fights with friends and family
  198. outside time constraints
  199. Parking making you late for class. Working so you can afford to live, but that cutting into your time to study.
  200. Parking!
  201. Parking!!
  202. Parking. Fitting uni study in with work schedules.
  203. Part time work that takes up time, and trying to maintain balance and social life
  204. Peers with superior knowledge.
  205. personal issues
  206. Personal Life
  207. Political correctness of those in positins to rectify issues, but they chose not to due to pressure of their superiors
  208. Printers that take your money without producing anything
  209. Procrastination
  210. professional athlete, so i travel heaps therefore time is scarce
  211. quality of lecturers and tutors
  212. Reading requirements, which are very extensive per week.
  213. Relationship problems, but having to stay living together due to financial struggles and rent obligations.
  214. Relationships with friends and other people. Other commitments.
  215. resources not working eg. printers for notes etc, not being able to find appropriate sources for assignments in the library
  216. sleeping in. =P
  217. sometime lacking the motivation to do the required satudy away from tuts and lectures, hence, do I know the material enough for exams etc
  218. Speaking with and in front of people you don't know.
  219. students who talk during lectures while im trying to listen to the lecturer.
  220. Subject Clashes, finding the middle ground when a single time table derails itself.
  221. sullen people in tutes tutes BEFORE the lecture (why) Feeling of being unskilled to complete task Fear of getting behind
  222. Switching thinking between working and UC - particularly when working/attending lectures-tutes/returning to work.
  223. System failures (such as moodle/OSIS failure when trying to enrol) Organising study group Knowing which books are worth buying for my unit
  224. that pretty much covers it
  225. That's about all of them.
  226. The Dean of Education changing Lecturers and not seeing an explanation of assessment to students as to being important.
  227. the hours of part time work i need to do to be able to afford to go to uni, between uni and my job i am "working" 7 days a week, add studying and it leave very little time left for my long time boyfriend, my family, my friends or time for myself
  228. The worst thing is coping with units where the expectations are very unclear and where too many disparate skills and knowledges are crammed into one unit. The other thing that is hard is unrealistic expectations from family memebers.
  229. time and available assistance
  230. Time for family
  231. time language skill
  232. Time limit as a mature student who are working at the same time. Other responsibility for childcare as a single parent
  233. time management
  234. time managment, organisation, part-time work.
  235. Timetable
  236. Timetable issues, food and exercise issues. Life and family issues and balancing priorities.
  237. Timetable issues, scheduling work commitments around class times.
  238. timing of the tutorials
  239. Too much reading spreaqd over different locations in Moodle Pressures from work as well as study. Limited flexibility from work
  240. travelling time and child care
  241. Travelling two hours to and from campus. Prac.
  242. trying to balance the workload and work commitments. reading all the material in time
  243. Trying to balance university assessment and attending lectures and tutorial with working
  244. Trying to be on time and finding a park when late.
  245. Trying to find a carpark in time to get to my lectures or turorials.
  246. Trying to fit in work commitments with uni, so that you can earn enough financially.
  247. Tute times allocated that are unworkable.
  248. tutor vagueness and unexplained or unclear expectations on assesment
  249. tutoring work load.
  250. Uncertainty whether I really want to study, or am studying the "right" thing; is the investment of study worth it as a mature age student with no guarenteed outcomes at the end?
  251. Unclear information on assessment tasks
  252. unclear parameters, eg exactly what is needed for ethics, or delayed feedback
  253. Unclear teachers.
  254. unhelpful convners and the student centre. There never seems to be anyone to help.
  255. Units
  256. unknowledgable teachers, very self-oriented.
  257. unorganised lecturers and tutors
  258. Unprofessional or unprepared tutors etc.
  259. Unreasonable time to complete work Group assignments
  260. Usefulness of my chosen degree after graduation. Also external expectations of entering a job where you use the degree. Holding down a job while studying.
  261. using moodle
  262. Waiting for feedback.
  263. weather, attitudes tutors or lecturers might hold
  264. When I don't perform as well as I could have
  265. When I was working full-time, studying part-time, getting time off work was stressful, especially if suitable tut/lecture times weren't available. Now I've left my job to study full-time, managing financially is much harder. Dealing with much younger students can also be stressful.
  266. work and health
  267. Work hours, Trying to factor in 25hrs per week job with university.
  268. Work load.
  269. Work pressures.
  270. Work priorities
  271. Work that has no relevence to the overall learing goals...
  272. Work, and the fact I'm a procrastinator doesn't help with assignments, essays, and homework
  273. work/uni balance HECS debt
  274. working
  275. Working Full time
  276. working full time
  277. working full time
  278. Working full time while studying part time
  279. Working full time.
  280. working fulltime in a high responsibility job. Oftn conflicts with Uni commitments
  281. Working too many hours- my lack of time isn't because of uni, it's because of work
  282. Workload outside of studies