Humanism Amidst Our Machines   /   Summer 2011   /    Essays And Short Takes

Student Health

For the past 25  years, the Higher Education Research Institute at uCLA  has been asking a vast sample of incoming college freshmen to rate their emotional health. In the annual survey, “The American Freshman,” HERI  also asks students how often they felt overwhelmed as high school seniors, to rate their “drive to achieve” and academic  ability,  and to report their  expecta- tions for college in a wide variety of areas.

The 2010 findings tell two stories. On  the one hand, over the decades, self-rated emotional health has been steadily declining. In 2010 more students  rated their emotional health below average, and fewer rated it above average than ever before.  Those reporting feeling frequently overwhelmed as high school seniors hit  a new high (29%). Nearly one in ten expected to seek personal counseling, also a record. On  the other hand, students' ratings of  their drive to achieve and their academic  ability have followed an opposite trajectory,  moving upward over time to new levels in  2010 (75%  and 70%, respec- tively). The same  upward  trajectory  is  seen with expectations for grades—66% expected to achieve at least a “B” average—and prospects for studying abroad.

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