Megan Konyndyk / THE EAGLE
The number of students seeking help at the AU Counseling Center for stress has steadily increased over the past four years.
A total of 1,062 students used the Center during the 2011-2012 academic year, according to the Counseling Center. That is 266 more students than the center saw three years ago during the 2008-2009 academic year.
The increase in the number of students using the Center could have to do with increased enrollment, a greater social acceptance of therapy, an increase in students entering college with a history of seeking therapy and/or higher levels of stress among the student body, Dr. Amanda Rahimi from the Counseling Center said in an email.
However, the increase at AU’s Counseling Center is consistent with other university counseling centers across the country, Rahimi said in an email.
While grades do influence the amount of stress some students feel, a student’s temperament, career aspiration and personal life also contribute, she said.
“College students juggle numerous responsibilities: academic, social, professional, personal, familial,” she said by email.
Stress ranked first as the “nature of students’ concerns” during 2011-2012 when 64.8 percent of students listed stress as a reason for seeking counseling, according to the Counseling Center’s records.
The client demographic chart of the students seeking counseling during 2011-2012 showed:
• 74 percent undergraduate
• 19 percent graduate,
• eight percent Washington College of Law
• one percent other affiliations.
There were 6,783 undergraduates enrolled at AU during the 2011 fall semester and only 3,391 graduate and 1,758 law students.
Of the undergraduates seeking counseling:
• 20 percent freshman,
• 19 percent
• 16 percent juniors
• 19 percent seniors,
according to the Center.
A recent article in WTOP said rising GPAs could be linked to student stress, but AU students and the Counseling Center said grades are not the sole contributor.
For many students it is “situation stress,” covering a wide range from homesickness to suicidal thoughts, Rahimi said. Each student is different and so is his or her stress.
For Caroline Cooper, a Kogod School of Business senior graduating in December, time management is her stressor.
“I’m good at it, but I like sleeping,” she said.
Cooper said she was not stressed about life four days into the fall 2012 semester, but she was stressed about her grades and GPA. “I know they [grades] shouldn’t [stress me out] but I think it is kind of ingrained into me now,” Cooper said.
Grades and GPA began stressing her out more a week later, despite already having a job lined up for after graduation, she said in an email.
She wants to graduate with Latin honors but feels tired from balancing work, class, homework and friends, Cooper said in an email.
However, she said she would not reach out to the AU Counseling Center even if she felt “extremely overwhelmed,” she said in an email.
“Nothing against [the AU Counseling Center], but I think at this point I know how to get things done, and I know myself well enough to deal with stress in a way that’s good for me,” she said by email.
The AU Counseling Center offers confidential, free, short term counseling to students.
Eight full-time psychologists, four clinical interns and several doctoral student trainees work with each student on a case-by-case basis to suit the student’s situation, Rahimi said.
“We see a whole range,” Rahimi said. “All students are welcome.”