College Freshmen Report: Students Are Stressed and Depressed


"They have such unrealistic expectations," the tutor said. "It's very stressful, and they don't want to disappoint their parents. There's a lot of anxiety, and the whole process is really horrible and I don't know how to change that."

By the time many of these high school students arrive at college, they are already on psychiatric drugs such as antidepressants and the stimulant used for attention deficit disorder, Adderall.

"We have noted an increase in those coming to school with more mental health problems and more challenges," college counselor Van Brunt said. "You look at a lot of the problems in college now -- extreme violence and school shootings and even the cyberbullying -- and they are coming from the high schools. In some ways freshman year is the 13th grade."

As high school problems transition to college, counselors struggle to deal with them. For many students, freshman year is a "culture shock," he said.

"This is also the millennium generation," Van Brunt said. "The 'helicopter' parents are very involved. They chose to have children because birth control was an option. They have been involved in their high schools.

"They have children with learning disabilities who have individualized education plans and now they come to the college and the level of support isn't there.

"Letting go is part of the problem," he added. "But the good part is we are seeing students who were a higher risk who did not go to college before, but we have new psychiatric medications and therapies that can take care of their problems at a younger age."

Hannah McDonald, a Syracuse freshman, said, "You have no idea how stressed I am. It's a complete whirlwind."

She confessed that in high school she could concentrate on her academics and was a top student.

"My parents cooked my meals and helped me with my laundry," said McDonald, 18, who grew up in Cranston, R.I. "I am an only child and it's hard to say if I am spoiled. I have a great relationship with my parents and they'd do anything for me.

"But once I was on my own," she said. "I realized I sure did have it easy."

ABC News reporters Olivia Katrandjian, Danielle Waugh, Candace Smith, Kyla Grant, Clay LePard and Matt Phifer contributed to this story.

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