MAY 13, 2015

Student survey finds mind enhancing drugs, increase in loneliness and anxiety at exam time

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A study of 2,000 U.S. final year undergraduate college students has found that 64 percent are worried that stress and anxiety is creating performance issues that is fuelling fears that they will be awarded lower grades than expected.

The independent research, released today by Stop Procrastinating (, the leading productivity research website, also found that students believe their levels of stress are greater than in the past.

Students responding to the survey stated their stress and anxiety levels were high because they were struggling to cope with expectations and competition at college for results:

• 35 percent blamed this on the difficult jobs market for young people, citing worry about lack of job opportunities.

• 45 percent blamed the overwhelming significance of their finals exams, realizing that underperforming could affect the rest of their lives, closing doors to opportunities and missing out on jobs or graduate schemes that higher grades would have secured.

• 75 percent said they had procrastinated too much ahead of their exams, saying they wasted between three and four hours a day. Of these 45 percent said they wasted time browsing the internet or on social media sites, watching videos or catching up on TV programs instead of working; a further 30 percent said they chatted to friends either in their room, a local bar or college facilities; 9 percent admitted to having sex instead of studying, while 7 percent said they tidied their room or took books back to the library. More than 50 percent said they procrastinated because they were overwhelmed by the amount of work they had to do.

• 71 percent said they had lacked motivation and concentration coming up to the finals, with 34 percent of these saying it was so worrying that had sought professional help by seeing the college counseling service or contemplating taking mood-enhancing medication, such as anti-depressants.

• 12 percent had admitted to using performance enhancing or smart drugs to deal with their worries over performance.

The study found that 37 percent of college students also suffered from loneliness, with more than half of these students saying that their fear for the future had turned them into work alcoholics who were too nervous of their exam performance to ‘waste time’ on socializing.
The survey also canvassed students for what they do avoid stress at exam time and prevent procrastinating.

The results were:
1. Take up exercise
2. Share worries with friends or sought out university counselor for help and guidance
3 Reward self for studying
4. Took up meditation
5. Blocked the internet while studying or revising
6. Read about successful people who had underperformed at college/university to discount any negative thoughts
7. Visualized what they want to achieve each day and how to achieve them
8. Listen to uplifting music
9. Listen to comedy
10. Keep a plan of each day’s work
11. Do small amount of work each day before letting it build up.

Rob Jones, director at Stop Procrastinating, commented:
“Our survey shows that students think the stress and anxiety caused by their final exams is getting worse. The jobs market for young people is one cause of this, with many believing that they have to perform at their very best in order to get the grades for a job,” he said.
“While some students are seeking professional help through counseling, many are using the peer support system of their friends who are going through the same stresses. It is good to see what while stress levels are high, students are also thinking clearly about the solutions.”