Mental Health Struggles: Over 40% of College Students Considered Dropping Out in Past Six Months

United States North America Higher Education News Statistics by Erudera News Mar 28, 2023


A new survey has found that 41 percent of students enrolled in postsecondary education programs at American colleges and universities have considered dropping out of college in the past six months, with 36 percent of bachelor’s students and 44 percent of associate degree students falling into this category. Students cited mental health as a leading cause.

According to a survey published by the Lumina Foundation, an independent, private organization focused on making opportunities for post-secondary learning accessible by all, and Gallup, global analytics and advisory firm, numbers represent a slight increase compared to those observed in 2020 and 2021, reports.

The report “Stressed Out and Stopping Out: The Mental Health Crisis in Higher Education” shows that COVID-19 is no longer the primary reason behind students considering stopping out, as many mentioned emotional stress as the cause they wanted to discontinue higher education.

Of the students who have considered stopping out, 55 percent cited emotional stress as the main reason, including nearly seven in ten bachelor’s students, or 69 percent mentioning the same.

Surveyed students said their mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety, and financial concerns, are two significant sources of their emotional stress.

“When asked what emotional stress means to them, many students said that coursework can be overwhelming, particularly if combined with work and caregiving responsibilities or issues in their personal relationships. Some mentioned depression and anxiety specifically. Others said concerns about the ability to pay for college brought on emotional stress,” the report points out.

Another reason pushing more college students to consider stopping out is personal mental health, with 47 percent of students, including 59 percent of bachelor’s degree students, citing it as the main cause.

The study revealed that a significant percentage of students often experience emotional stress while attending college. According to results, 40 percent of all students report experiencing emotional stress frequently, while 46 percent said they experience it occasionally.

Among bachelor’s students, nearly half (48 percent) said they are stressed out frequently and so admitted more than one-third of associate degree students (36 percent).

Female students and low-income students also reported being very stressed out. Nearly half of the female students, or 47 percent, said they often experience emotional stress, compared to 30 percent of males.

“Whether women are more likely to experience emotional stress than men, or are just more likely to acknowledge it, is unclear,” the report said.

As per the socioeconomic background, 49 percent of students from low-income households said they experienced emotional stress, which they attributed to the inability to pay monthly bills.

The study was conducted in the fall of 2022 and involved d 12,015 US adults who have not completed higher education yet.

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