Freshman stress letters

The Gargoyle has decided to publish excerpts from two anonymous letters penned by members of the Class of 2022. These letters have been published with their express permission. 


Dear Parent(s)/Guardian(s),  

…As you may know, Uni students encounter a very evil six-letter word through all of that time, which I am to discuss with you today: stress.

Often, we students do not talk about the stress we have in our lives…we as a collective class would like to open dialogue between us and our parents and/or guardians so that they can get a better understanding of what we are going through at school and in our lives…This is an extremely important topic and as a community, we want to address this together.

…Sometimes people are expected to “ignore” the stress or be essentially “resistant” or “immune” to stress because it will happen all the time… While we are having these discussions in-class and people have already mapped what seems to me to be their entire life…there is a hard, competitive drive to be the best or to succeed as much as possible… It can be demoralizing.

…My stress at Uni started at the first day…I felt I was amongst people that were all better than me. I remember the first time that I stayed up until 12:00 and my mom told me to sleep, and I remember telling her, “Mom, I have to study. This is what it’s going to be like now.”… There seem to be weeks where both short-term…[and] long-term assignments and projects seem to pop up out nowhere, and it can be too much to process for us.  

Extracurriculars are awesome, but they don’t always help with stress . . . Ultimately, all these things contribute to a “vicious cycle” with school work piling on, losing that time with extracurriculars, overworking, having a lack of sleep, and not having the necessary energy for the next day.

…Now, I don’t want to make the impression that Uni is a solely negative place. That is not the point of this letter. I think it’s quite the opposite actually…I have been able to grow as a person in a direction I can be excited about. Without those challenges and the challenges that lie ahead, I do not think I would have grown as much as I think I have.

To wrap things up, there is stress in each of our lives and at Uni, its shape and form is different for every individual. We are so often consumed by this stress that it often goes unnoticed to you parents. I hope that as a freshman with similar experiences to your child or children, you will open dialogue with them about these topics.

Sincerely,  A Uni Freshman


Dear Parent,  

It has come to our concern that many of us Uni freshmen get a lot of stress and need a way to open up about it. There are multiple reasons for why we get stressed out often, including the environment among the freshmen students, expectations from oneself/parents, Uni culture in terms of grades and GPA, etc.  

The class environment puts a lot of pressure on us because most of us often want to compare our grades, for example, after a test. This may cause some students to feel pressured and therefore push them to look smarter as others are or seem… Personally, I believe the class norm has become to overachieve or to always do more than is expected. I think this is because students who meet expectations but do not go beyond that…see others who do and think they should also do that much… to feel satisfied with themselves and feel safe about their grades/future.  

Speaking of the future, any parents or teachers may bring up topics like college to get students thinking about how to prepare…This also puts pressure on us. Some students in our class may already know exactly what kind of career they want to pursue. But for others who have no clue, they see the students who have started doing extra activities relating to what they want to become in the future and… feel as if they are lacking and become pressured.

Parents usually have expectations for their child’s grades and their academic performance. We understand that this is because our parents care about us, but sometimes it is important to recognize to what extent you are pushing your child… because we often compare ourselves, we form standards for ourselves, which leads to self-induced stress. Sometimes, we are not aware that we are stressing ourselves out.

…there are times when assignments or tests will be assigned in waves, all at the same time. It frustrates the students out because this happens very often, and we have tried addressing this issue before… there should more communication among teachers and more student feedback to minimize these waves of work.

Even if we do get stressed, Uni is not a bad place… the social environment here is a lot more inclusive, friendly, and safe than what I have heard of about other schools in Champaign/Urbana. The teachers are hard-working and put in a lot of time for our education. With a little more communication, feedback, and collaboration, we can help reduce stress on the freshman class.

Sincerely, A Uni Freshman

(with many concerns)