U survey links high stress with low grades

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Getting stressed out about that next exam might not be the best way to go about studying.

A survey released by Boynton Health Service on Monday showed that students who claim to be stressed out have worse grade point averages than students who are not.

More than 24,000 students at 14 colleges and universities in Minnesota took part in the survey.

The survey results also linked drug and tobacco use, lack of sleep, binge drinking and having no health insurance to worse GPAs.

Ed Ehlinger , a study coordinator, said while most results were consistent with what he thought was going to happen, many results surprised him.

For example, students who reported living with a chronic or mental health illness had virtually the same GPA as those who didn’t.

“Students are pretty resilient,” Ehlinger said, “and they rebound from that nicely.”

Katherine Lust, a primary survey coordinator, said she agrees with Ehlinger.

Another significant statistic from the survey is a correlation between how much time students spend on the computer or watching TV and their GPAs.

Students who didn’t watch any television during the day had an average GPA of 3.37, while with two hours of TV per day, the average GPA dropped to 3.21.

“I think it’s going to be a lot more important for people to pay attention to that,” Ehlinger said.

More results said there was no correlation between number of hours worked for pay in a week and GPA.

“The conventional wisdom is that the more you worked, the more stress is placed on your academics,” Ehlinger said.

Lust said she thinks there isn’t a correlation between hours worked for pay and GPA because if students have less free time, they will spend that time studying.

“I think sometimes when we’re engaged in more things like work or extracurricular activities, that in fact when we sit down to do something, we are very focused and we use our time very well,” Lust said.

According to the survey, about 70 percent of students claim that stress is an issue in their lives, while one-third claim it has affected their academics.

Luke Kane is a member of Mindfulness for Students , a student group that plans activities to help students relax.

“A lot of people do say they’re coming because they know they’re going to have a long semester,” Kane said.

Kristine Volovsek is another member of Mindfulness for Students.

“I don’t have less stress in my life,” she said, “but I have better ways to cope with it.”

Kane said he found some stress reduction through the group.

Another relationship in the survey is between how well students say they can manage stress and their GPAs.

“If students can manage their stress, then their stress level will not matter,” Ehlinger said.

Ehlinger also said he has presented this survey to deans of the different colleges and universities across Minnesota.

He said he hopes faculty and staff will become more aware of students’ problems through the survey.

“This will help administrators say, ‘Maybe we should pay a little more attention to health service and stress reduction,’ ” he said.