GPA Killer: Student Stress

Rhetorical & Writing Skills 1401
April 4, 2016
Miss. Rebekah Grado

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There are millions of students in the United States. All those college students are dealing with
due dates, projects, homework, tuition, basic services etc… and at the same time dealing with
their GPA. All of these are generated by an increased competition for job opportunities in a world
in which having a degree is not enough anymore, it must be a perfect degree. These leads to the
higher levels of stress ever recorded in students and sadly stress affects academic results. Dealing
with stress is not a shower and a massage anymore, it is now is a “do not overthink” and great
planning skills in order to live a better student life but everything must start from understanding
how stress works and learning how to control it which is the purpose of these research. In this
research I will talk about student stress. In order to do a proper stress research paper various
points need to be understood. The first step towards understanding the issue is to know what
causes it; stress will be analyzed to see what originates it and exactly when stress becomes a
serious matter. The second step of this research is to know which the consequences of stress are.
This is a very important step as in order to know its importance it’s consequences must be
understood, if not these would be just another paper talking about another issue. To culminate
this research the last step will be investigating and proposing solutions.
The first step towards solving a problem is to understand it which leads the research to
the first question: what is stress? It is well known that stress is the sensation of desperation
and anxiousness felt when facing difficulty to complete a task but is there anything more
about it? According to the experts stress is “The body’s reaction to a challenge” (Cohen, M.)
and surprisingly it is seen as an aid rather than an opposition towards completing those
challenges. Stress works in the following manner, when a challenge is present the brain
releases hormones that ignite a series of effects on the body (slow digestion, increased heart
rate, flushing of skin, etc.…). These effects are meant to impulse the person to either

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complete the task to relief stress or just ignore it in order to end those reactions. There are
three types of stress: acute, episodic acute, chronic Acute. Acute stress is the most common
and less harmful kind stress and it comes during times of pressure like due dates and tests or
in the form of excitement just like graduation day or first day of classes, either way it lasts
for a very short period of time. Episodic Acute is identical to acute stress but it is more
frequent. Acute stress lasts longer as it largely depends on the events that are happening in
life for example student debt, health issues, difficult college years (Cohen, M.). There are
persons who are prone to it because of their personality, persons that like to get things done
fast. The most dangerous type of stress is chronic acute stress. This type of stress is present
on people that are constantly involved in stressful situations to the point that it is their style
of life. This type of stress may have serious effects on health as it can lead to cardiac
problems, strokes, cancer, among others. Stress in students is not only caused by school as it
is also caused by how students deal with school. After understanding which are the types of
the stress the next step is to understand what causes stress. According to the experts some of
the main generators of stress in college students are: Living away from home, Academic
demands, text anxiety, Finances, and after-college plans. Academic demand is a big issue in
college students as it is a constant fight to maintain the best GPA possible. One of the most
common problems of students is procrastination. Leaving homework, assignments, and
projects to the last days of the assigned time will always lead the student to experience
incredibly high levels of stress. Stress does not only depend on the student’s organization
skills but on his lifestyle as well. Lack of physical activities, bad diet, and few sleeping hours
will cause the brain to perform poorly on school. This poor performance will have
repercussions on important dates like tests, quizzes, and finals which are part of the main

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factors of student stress. These will start a chain of fatidic events that are responsible for the
incredible high records of stress of today students, those events will be discussed on the next
section. Finally, the last part of understanding student stress is to be aware that it does not
only happen due to school related problems. Many students are foreigners in their colleges
and they face the responsibility to pay services (light, water, cable, etc…) paying rent and
even missing their family can lead to stress. Other students are already married adults that
must sustain families or even single parents that have the responsibility to raise a child. All
these factors together can represent one of the biggest challenges someone can imagine and
when that lifestyle is not managed correctly it can lead to one of the worst cases of stress
which is the chronic acute stress. In conclusion to this section stress must be seen in a
positive way in order to avoid a series of consequences that will be discussed later on. It is
also really important to be aware that student stress does not only depends on the school itself
but also in the way students organize themselves and how students manage their lifestyle
which includes parents and transfer students as well.
As it was mentioned before stress can be a very important motivator towards achieving a
goal this is thanks to a series of physical effects caused by hormones that serve to force the
brain to do whatever it takes to release stress which is usually getting things done. As in
many things in life there must be a point where things change from being good into
becoming something bad, but exactly where does stress becomes something bad? For this
section only two types of stress will be analyzed: Episodic Acute and Chronic Acute stress.
The reason for this is that it was proven in the beginning of this research that acute stress is a
very common type of stress that every student has had at some point of college and it does
not represent any risk at all. Episodic acute is where problems star to build up and as its name

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says it is a repetitive form of stress that keeps building up in the person which eventually
leads to chronic acute stress making this the breaking point between the good things of stress
and the dangerous ones or in other words stress is good once in a while but once it becomes a
routine it starts to present repercussions on the body and it continues increasing its presence
on the person until that person gets accustomed to that kind of lifestyle and that is the point
where stress becomes a chronic problem. Even when it is causing serious issues, the person
still refuses to get away of the problem because its brain is stuck on the idea that the problem
must be solved in order to release the stress without realizing that the only challenge is to
control stress rather than solving what it is causing it because there is no real challenge
anymore. Stress it is good up to a certain point, after passing that point stress itself becomes
the problem or in other words the problem is trying to solve itself but in the process the
hormones that are released will cause serious damage to the individual. Now that the point
where stress becomes a bad thing was identified, what are the consequences of it on college
students? Consequences are divided in four sections: Physical, cognitive, emotional, and
behavioral (Cohen, M.). The list of effects includes many symptoms for convenience
purposes only the most common ones of each section will be mentioned. Physical effects can
either be seen or felt and they include: Involuntary shaking, frequent sickness (low defenses),
reduced libido, headaches, nausea, change of weight, trouble sleeping, and heart pain.
Emotional effects are represented in the form of feelings and attitudes. Emotional effects
include: Less patience, sadness/depression, restlessness, irritability, feeling of loneliness, and
pessimistic attitude. Cognitive effects are related to the mentality of the person and it
includes: Concentration issues, chronic worrying, feelings of anxiousness, unwanted
thoughts, and memory problems. Finally behavioral attitudes are things that the person does

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when in constant stress like: Change in eating habits, nail biting, failure to complete
responsibilities, lowered school performance, lying, issues in getting along with people, and
increased usage of drugs/ alcohol. Summarizing the consequences of stress in students it can
be seen that it really affects the individual in all aspects of life but especially in the mental
side. Stress causes depression on the person which forces him to isolate himself making it
harder for him to solve stress. Physical issues are a sign of how stress affects the organism in
various ways. It reduces metabolism and creates skin problems which it is very important to
maintain an active lifestyle in order to keep the body busy in healthy matters. Behavioral
issues are a representation of how stress generates anxiety on the person ant it is a sign that
the body is trying to release stress and muscle tension by shaking, nail biting, or even trying
to distract itself by eating more than usual. Finally cognitive consequences are the ones that
really affect the GPA in a direct way as it shows how the way the brain works changes as it is
too busy with stress it deviates from other important things such as paying attention in
school. Analyzing the effects of stress on the student provides support to the argument
previously mentioned in this section about how chronic acute stress works. The findings
show that chronic acute stress is a stress lifestyle that results from stress trying to solve itself,
for example: Stress can be generated by the lack of sleep but one consequence of stress is
sleeping problems. Another example is: stress is a result from academic pressure which
usually results from the accumulation of work and tests but it is proven that stress reduces the
brain capacity to store information and to pay attention as well as neglecting responsibilities
which are doing homework or preparing final projects with time. Finally a third example is:
stress may be generated by living away from the person’s relatives but once again it is proven
that one of stress’s consequences is depression and isolation and that is the person refusing to

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spend time with friends and/or avoiding to call or have communication with relatives. Now
that the consequences are fully understood and an idea of how dangerous and complicated
stress may get for students it is time to continue to the last part of this research.
Now it is fully understood that stress is not just a feeling but instead it is a psychological
issue and it has actual cures which are based on the consequences analyzed on the previous
section. There are many ways to alleviate stress starting from the ones that are most common like
not overthinking and doing something that distracts you form the problems like a hobby, to the
most complex ways like mental exercises and complex organizing plans. The very first step
towards solving a stress issue is to identify the type of stress that the person have. In order to
identify stress a very simple question has to be asked, what is generating stress? The answer will
be based on the findings of the first section which talks about understanding stress. If stress is
being generated by due dates, GPA, homework, tuition, etc.… the most recommended solution is
to do not overthink and make a plan. By not overthinking it is meant to not focus too much on
the issue as it is only temporal and the only things that must be taken into account is doing things
and doing them well. A semester usually lasts nine weeks and eventually all that stress will go
away at least for a short period of time making it very un-useful to overthink about something
that will not have other effect besides having a bad grade in case the person decides to just ignore
school, life goes on. If stress comes from things like feeling lonely (in case of living away from
family), rental/services, kids, or other complex issues the recommended solution is avoid
overthinking. As it was previously mentioned chronic acute stress will appear when stress is
trying to solve stress with stress, in other words the most important thing to do is to avoid falling
into depression or adopt behaviors that will eventually aggravate the situation. Some solutions to
these problems are to: do exercise, control diet, meditating, disconnecting from social media,

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avoid falling into drugs/alcohol, find a hobby, and buying a pet (Steinhoff, 2013). It is clear that
the main objective of these solutions focus on keeping the mind busy or disconnected and avoid
getting the loneliness sensation because those three issues will lead to more serious issues like
depression, cardiac issues, and other more serious consequences. If it the person founds that
there is no way out of stress the best thing to do is to visit a specialist because there is always a
way out but the brain is too focused on keeping the body stressed in order for the person to solve
the problem which ironically is stress itself.
In conclusion stress is a very complex issue especially in college students. But at it was
proved on this research stress can be good up to a certain point and that point is passed is when it
becomes a routine. That routine creates a cycle of issues that will keep stress alive and will never
end unless the person decides to put a stop to it, to open the eyes and see that there has not been
stress at all and it was only the brain confused about the imaginary problems and the solutions.
Keeping the mind busy, the body clean, company, and a well-planned and organized expenses
and necessities will help to alleviate stress and at the end the only type of stress that will remain
is the one that anybody can escape from and that is simply a “response of the body to a
challenge” (Cohen, 2016) because challenges are a necessity for a successful life and that makes
stress a requirement to achieve all the goals a person sets in his life, it is only about having a
balance.

GPA Killer: Student Stress

References
Britt, S. L., Canale, A., Fernatt, F., Stutz, K., & Tibbetts, R. (2015). Financial Stress and
Financial Counseling: Helping College Students. Journal Of Financial Counseling &
Planning, 26(2), 172-186.
Çivitci, A. (2015). The Moderating Role of Positive and Negative Affect on the
Relationship between Perceived Social Support and Stress in College Students.Educational
Sciences: Theory & Practice, 15(3), 565-573. doi:10.12738/estp.2015.3.2553
Holinka, C. (2015). Stress, Emotional Intelligence, and Life Satisfaction in College
Students. College Student Journal, 49(2), 300-311.
Steinhoff, N. (2013, November 6). Students: 10 ways to beat stress. Retrieved from The
Guardian http://www.theguardian.com/education/mortarboard/2013/nov/06/students-ten-waysto-beat-stress
Cohen, M. (n.d.). Anxiety in College and Beyond. Retrieved from Learn Psycology.
http://www.learnpsychology.org/student-stress-anxiety-guide/

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