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Student Stress and Academic Performance: Seven Ways in Which Too Much Stress Can Affect Your Grades

Jul 1, 2008
You've probably been hearing the same mantra since elementary school - if you don't get good grades, you won't get into a good college, you won't get a good job and you'll end up living like a bum on the street...

All joking aside, your academic performance really does affect what fields you can go into and what type of job you can hold in the future. After all, you wouldn't expect a straight-D student to get into medical school - nor would you want them to. However, whether you're in high school, college, or graduate school, constantly dealing with stress can have a big impact on your overall academic success in any of the following ways:

1. Stress Affects Your Health

Stress suppresses your immune system, which causes increased susceptibility to bugs and viruses, as well as chronic health problems like headaches and upset stomach. It doesn't take a Harvard graduate to tell you that if you're sick, you won't be able to give 100% to your classes. You may not feel up to studying or you could suffer further from missing classes. If stress is causing physical symptoms, it's time to consult a professional therapist or stress management consultant.

2. Stress Affects Memory Retention

Students who experience large amounts of stress in their lives often have trouble with memory retention. When you're stressed, you're more likely to forget the facts and figures presented in class, and you'll be less likely to successfully recall this information on tests, labs and on real life applications. Obviously, this is a problem for anyone who wants to do well in college, so try to identify and remedy the causes of stress in your life if you find you're forgetting more than you retain from your classes.

3. Stress Causes Anxiety

Students who face a tremendous amount of stress may also suffer from anxiety - ranging from mild cases of worry to severe, can't-leave-the-house cases of nerves. If you're suffering from anxiety at any level, you'll find that you can't focus as well on your school work or on other aspects of student life like extra-curricular activities and personal relationships.

4. Stress Affects Your Judgment

Stress has a definite impact on student judgment. Some students will turn to illegal drugs, prescription medications or binge-drinking in order to escape from the affects of stress. However, turning to drugs and alcohol doesn't erase the source of your stress - it only adds more. Substance abuse is a serious problem, so if you find yourself pouring a glass or four of wine each night to help you wind down, it's time to seek professional guidance.

5. Stress Compromises Your Future Outlook

Stress can turn an ambitions, driven student into one who's nervous and unsure about the future. It's easy to feel overwhelmed when you have a test Monday, a paper due on Wednesday and a major lab on Friday - but don't let the little things affect your drive for success. If you find yourself thinking that there's no way you'll get everything done, try breaking large tasks down into smaller pieces and tackle them one bit at a time.

6. Stress Affects Your Self-Esteem

Students who feel overwhelmed by stress may experience feelings of guilt and hopelessness, causing their self-esteem to falter. If you've dropped the ball on your academic work, it's easy to feel like you'll never get back on track - but don't think like this! If you get too caught up in your recent stumbles, you'll lose track of all the positive strides you've made in your studies. Remind yourself of all the good things you've accomplished so far and find small, concrete ways to get back on the right path.

7. Stress Can Lead to Mental Health Problems

It's easy to let the competing academic and personal priorities of being a student get the better of you as a student, and it can become difficult to see outside all this stress. As a result, many students - particularly college-aged students - end up dealing with depression or thinking suicidal thoughts. If you're ever feeling that there's no way out of the stress you're under, seek proper care immediately - there are people who understand what you're going through that can help you work through the stress you're dealing with.
About the Author
And if you recognize yourself or the student in your life in this article, get Elisabeth Kuhn's FREE report with 7 stress-reducing strategies at 7 stress-reducing strategies. Or get her full-sized stress relief ebook with many more techniques (including an intro to the highly effective Emotional Freedom Technique) for instant stress relief.
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