Stress and College Students with Jobs
Sponsored by Missouri Western State University Sponsored by a grant from the National Science Foundation DUE-97-51113
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The proper APA Style reference for this manuscript is:
COCHRAN, A. C. (2001). Stress and College Students with Jobs. National Undergraduate Research Clearinghouse, 4. Available online at Retrieved April 25, 2017 .

Stress and College Students with Jobs
Missouri Western State University DEPARTMENT OF PSYCHOLOGY

Sponsored by: Brian Cronk (
187 college students from Missouri Western State College’s campus were surveyed in order to find if a college student holding a job is more stressed than a college student not holding a job. The survey consisted of the Overload Assessment Test used to evaluate how overwhelmed the student feels on a daily basis. I found that students who were in the higher classes were more likely to report feeling stressed. I could not find a significant difference between college students with jobs and college students without jobs, but certain steps can be taken to possibly find the results that I was looking for.

More and more college students are holding jobs now in order to pay for college or to survive financially while in school. Academic studies have also become much more strenuous over the last 30 years (Reisberg, 2000). I deem there is a much higher chance that a student with a job will be more stressed than a student without a job because of these circumstances. Reisberg (2000) found that 25% of freshman college students reported a probability of getting a full-time job during school, and 77% of students said they would need to work to pay for college. Sixty-five out of 100 students reported that holding a job was a source of stress according to Ross, Niebling, and Heckert (1999) and Dunkel-Schetter & Lobel (1990) found that financial worries were a common source of stress. Students often feel overwhelmed because of a limited amount of time to do all that is required of them as students, and this is particularly true for those that hold part-time or full-time jobs (Macan, Shahani, Dipboye, & Phillips, 1990). Trockel, Barnes, and Egget (2000) took a random sample of 200 students and found that there was a relationship with the number of hours worked per week and lower grade point averages. Students who have to work are being deprived of study time they would otherwise have. According to the poll that UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute held, last year’s college freshman are more strained than any class before them (Reisberg, 2000; Long Island Business News, 2000; and Techniques: Connecting Education & Careers, 2000). The definition for psychological stress that I am utilizing is any particular relationship between a person and the environment that the person judges to be beyond his or her resources and jeopardizes his or her well being (Dunkel-Schetter & Lobel, 1990). There are two kinds of stress, acute and chronic. Acute stress can be related to small daily hassles while chronic stress takes place when several environmental stressors continue to be a worry for a long period of time, like finances and schoolwork. Stress can contribute to depression, suicide, substance abuse, eating disorders, and poor academic performance. Snelgar (1990) summarized the literature as stating that stress has been related to physical and mental health, coronary heart disease, absenteeism, and the value of work. All students are subject to stress through continuous evaluations like tests and papers, but students with jobs on the side also have to be evaluated by their employers (Ross, Niebling, & Heckert, 1999). Most jobs have stress of their own, therefore students who work are exposed to more occurrences of stress. For all of the reasons listed previously, I hope to see that my study will yield to my prediction, that students with jobs will report feeling more stressed than students without jobs.


I got my participants for my project by e-mailing professors from different departments on Missouri Western State College’s campus. They were not randomly chosen, I just picked different professors from the directory. Most all of them agreed to let me come to their classroom to give out surveys. I got 187 Mo. Western college students as participants by going from class to class in this fashion.

I set up a survey to pass out to college students here on Mo. Western’s campus. The survey first consisted of the Overload Assessment Test (Girdano, Everly, & Dusek,1993), which is a test of ten questions that quickly evaluate about how overwhelmed or stressed the student perceives him or herself to be. This is a good test to give to students or anybody in the work force that has a lot of responsibilities. The second part of the survey asks six questions I added to find out about the student, such as: a.) what year the student is (freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior), b.) if he or she has a job, c.) how many hours a week he or she works on average, d.) if the student works day or evening hours or both, e.) if the job is needed to help with finances, such as schooling or living expenses, if the job is only used to provide extra spending money, or if it’s volunteer and f.) how many hours of college credit the student is enrolled in. After I collected all the surveys, I took the information and scores and drew conclusions from the data. I maintained confidentiality by telling the participants not to put their names or social security numbers on the forms, and to only answer the questions that are asked.

The materials I used were the surveys and the SPSS program to interpret my results.

A multiple linear regression was calculated to predict subjects’ stress scores based on their year in college, numbers of hours worked per week, and number of credits enrolled in. A significant regression equation was found (F(3,145) = 3.14, p = .027), with an R square of .022. Subjects’ predicted stress is equal to 12.985 + .706 (year in college), when class is coded as 1 = Freshman, 2 = Sophomore, 3 = Junior, and 4 = Senior. Subjects increased .7 points for each year higher in college. Both hours worked per week and college credits enrolled in were not significant predictors.

My results did not turn out the way I had expected. The only conclusion I could draw from my results was that Mo. Western College students felt more overwhelmed as they got higher in class. The juniors were more stressed than the sophomores and the sophomores were more stressed than the freshmen, but the senior scores did not follow this pattern, which I would describe as a statistical anomaly. I could not deduce that having a job while in college appeared to make the student more stressed. Even with comparing the scores with how many hours of credit taken and how many hours worked per week, there was not a significant finding. There might have been a significance in the reason why the student held a job, but there were not enough subjects saying that they only had a job for extra spending money to compare fairly with the group that said they had a job to pay bills or the group that had a job for both reasons. I think I needed more participants in my study. I had 187 students that filled out surveys but I did not have enough subjects of each kind of different answers to compare to each other. I also do not think I asked enough questions to weed out confounding variables that would effect the outcome, such as if the person had children. Choosing to get a random sample would also give me a better variety of students to survey. I did not get participants from a number of departments on campus, and the students were not randomly chosen from the departments I did get my sample from. Many of these corrections may help me to find the results that others have found in this research area or that others have assumed exist.

Best way to deal college stress? Work it out. (9/15/2000). Long Island Business News, 47, 29A. Dunkel-Schetter, C., Lobel, M. (1990). Stress among students. New Directions for Student Services, NO 49, 17-34. Girdano, D. A., Everly, Jr., G. S. & Dusek, D. E. (1993). Controlling stress & tension: A holistic approach, 4th ed. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall. Macan, T. H., Shahani, C., Dipboye, R. L., & Phillips, A. P. (1990). College students’ time management: Correlations with academic performance and stress. Journal of Educational Psychology, 82, 760-768. Reisberg, L. (2000). Student stress is rising, especially among women. Chronicle of Higher Education, 46, A49-50. Ross, S. E., Niebling, B. C., & Heckert, T. M. (1999). Sources of stress among college students. College Student Journal, 33, 312-317. Snelgar, R. J. (1990). Stress and the part-time student: Work factors associated with failure rate. Louth African Journal of Psychology, 20, 42-46. Stressed out on campus. (2000). Techniques: Connecting Education & Careers, 75, 9. Trockel, M. T., Barnes, M. D., & Egget, D. L. (2000). Health-related variables and academic performance among first-year college students: Implications for sleep and other behaviors. Journal of American College Health, 49, 125-131.

                     Self-Assessment ScaleHow often do you...

1.Find yourself with insufficient time to complete your work? Almost always Very often Seldom Never

2.Find yourself becoming confused and unable to think clearly because too many things are happening at once? Almost always Very often Seldom Never

3.Wish you had help to get everything done? Almost always Very often Seldom Never

4.Feel that people around you simply expect too much from you? Almost always Very often Seldom Never

5.Feel overwhelmed by the demands placed upon you? Almost always Very often Seldom Never

6.Find your work infringing upon your leisure hours? Almost always Very often Seldom Never

7.Get depressed when you consider all of the tasks that need your attention? Almost always Very often Seldom Never

8.See no end to the excessive demands placed upon you? Almost always Very often Seldom Never

9.Have to skip a meal so that you can get work completed? Almost always Very often Seldom Never

10.Feel that you have too much responsibility? Almost always Very often Seldom Never

Submitted 11/28/2001 11:07:02 AM
Last Edited 11/28/2001 11:27:44 AM
Converted to New Site 03/09/2009

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