Edison Research conducts mtvU / Associated Press Poll on Emotional Health of College Students

Over 60 Percent of College Seniors Worried They Won’t Land a Job After Graduation, Nearly 1 in 5 Students Have a Parent Who Lost a Job This Year, and 1 in 3 College Students Changed Major or Chose Grad School in Response to the Recession

NEW YORK , May 21 /PRNewswire/ — As millions of college students graduate college this year, mtvU , MTV’s 24-hour college network and The Associated Press today revealed the results of a new poll examining the emotional health of college students as they face a global recession and a receding job market, finding that more than half of college seniors are worried they won’t be able to secure a job after graduation.

The study finds that although financial pressures are a major source of daily stress, they do not surpass worries about academic performance. The economy has definitely taken a toll with concerns about finding a job ranking high among stressors, and intensified struggles reported by the almost one in five students whose parents have experienced job loss. Additionally, an alarming number of college students are struggling with mental health issues, but many are not actively seeking out the help that they need. Despite all of this, young people are generally happier than they were last year, are adapting to their environment by switching their majors, going to graduate school or making other proactive changes in their lives, and maintain positive attitudes about the value of their college experience.

The mtvU and Associated Press study follows a month of on-air and online mtvU programming exploring how college students are impacted by increasing financial pressures as part of mtvU and The Jed Foundation’s ongoing ” Half of Us ” campaign. A similar study examining the impact of stress, mental health struggles, the economy, and other issues facing college students was conducted in 2008 by mtvU / AP in conjunction with “Half of Us.”

Detailed findings from the 2009 study include:


In the face of a bleak economy, nearly one in three college students say financial pressures are a big source of daily stress for them, up from 27 percent last year. 17 percent of students have considered dropping out of school in the past three months, with financial pressures cited as the primary cause.

Nearly one out of five students reports having a parent who lost their job or got laid off since the beginning of the school year. Among these students, the impact of the economy on their emotional health is intensified. These students encounter more negative thoughts related to school completion and job prospects, and about their lives in general. Compared to the larger sample, these students are:

— Nearly twice as likely to have considered dropping out of school (27 percent vs. 14 percent). — More likely to be very worried about finding a summer job (23 percent vs. 11 percent). — More likely to say they worry about their parents financial situation a lot (55 percent vs. 28 percent). — Less likely to find college to be definitely worth the time and money (43 percent vs. 54 percent).


The U.S. Census Bureau reports that 1.6 million college degrees will be awarded this year. Yet, companies are expected to hire 22 percent fewer recent college graduates this year, as compared to 2008. 57 percent of the students polled are worried they won’t be able to find a job after graduation, with this number rising to 63 percent among students in their Senior year of college. 10 percent of those polled do not plan to return to school next year because they will be taking time off to work.
Yet, the study shows that many students are maintaining a positive outlook and taking control of their futures by adjusting their plans in response to the difficult job market:

— Nearly one in five say they made the decision to go to graduate school or professional school because they think they might not be able to get a job with just an undergraduate degree. — Roughly one in 10 changed their major this year because they were worried about job prospects. — 82 percent think their college education so far has been worth the time and money they have spent.

This summer, 84 percent of college students plan to work, whether at a permanent job, a temporary job or a paid internship, compared to 75 percent last year. 38 percent are worried that they won’t be able to find a job or internship this summer. Half of students rely on income from a part or full time job to pay for their education, with 48 percent saying they are somewhat/very worried about having enough money to pay for school next year, which makes finding summer employment critical.


With 85 percent of students reporting that they experience stress on a daily basis, up from 80 percent last year, it’s clear that stress is a prevalent factor on college campuses today. However, even in light of larger national issues, academic concerns like school work and grades, with 77 percent and 74 percent respectively, maintain their positions as the top drivers of student stress. Financial woes followed close behind, with 67 percent stating that money matters accounted for a lot or some of their daily stress.

In the face of stress and uncertainty, 82 percent maintain positive attitudes surrounding their college education, feeling that it has been worth the time and financial investment.

At the same time, the study shows that stress is taking a serious toll on the everyday lives of college students, affecting them academically and socially:

— Six out of 10 students report having felt so stressed they couldn’t get their work done on one or more occasions. — 53 percent of students report feeling so stressed they didn’t want to hang out with friends on one or more occasions.


The mtvU/AP polls from 2008 and 2009 confirm that mental health struggles are common among the college audience and continued efforts are needed to educate students on avenues for seeking support. When stress becomes excessive and impacts a student’s ability to function, it can have severe consequences, especially for students with a mental health condition. Low energy levels, sleep troubles and appetite issues are among the most common indicators of emotional health problems experienced by students, and nearly one out of every 10 students are reporting signs of moderate to severe depression, and an alarming number of students have reached crisis mode:

— 17 percent of students overall report that their friends have talked about wanting to end their lives. — 10 percent report having a friend who has made a suicide attempt. — Seven percent report that they have seriously thought about ending their own lives in the past year.

84 percent of students know where they would go for help if they were coping with emotional distress, with 77 percent turning to friends and 67 percent reaching out to their parents for help. Only half of students report that they are familiar with counseling resources available on their campus, and even fewer students actively seek them out. Among students reporting symptoms of moderate to severe depression, 47 percent state that they are not familiar with the counseling resources available on their campuses, and only 32 percent received any support or treatment from a counselor or mental health professional since beginning college.
Additional findings from this poll can be found at http://www.halfofus.com/press.aspx .

mtvU and The Jed Foundation’s ongoing “Half of Us” campaign is designed to improve emotional health and prevent suicide among college students, fight the stigma around mental health on campus, and connect students to help if needed. The backbone of the campaign is www.HalfofUs.com , with an abundance of information and resources. The site also features poignant testimonials from Mary J. Blige, Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy, Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins, Max Bemis of Say Anything, Brittany Snow, and college students from diverse backgrounds openly discussing their personal struggles with serious mental health issues.

For more information on the “Half of Us” campaign please check out http://www.halfofus.com .


The mtvU / Associated Press poll was conducted April 22 – May 4, 2009 and included interviews with 2,240 undergraduate students at 40 randomly chosen four year-schools across the Country. The survey was conducted for the Associated Press and mtvU by Edison Research of Somerville, NJ , under the direction and supervision of AP’s polling unit. The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.0 percent.

About The Associated Press

The Associated Press is the essential global news network, delivering fast, unbiased news from every corner of the world to all media platforms and formats. Founded in 1846, AP today is the largest and most trusted source of independent news and information. On any given day, more than half the world’s population sees news from AP. On the Net: www.ap.org .

About mtvU

Broadcast to more than 750 college campuses and via top cable distributors in 700 college communities nationwide, mtvU reaches upwards of 9 million U.S. college students – making it the largest, most comprehensive television network just for college students. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, mtvU can be seen in the dining areas, fitness centers, student lounges and dorm rooms of campuses throughout the U.S., as well as on cable systems from Charter Communications, Verizon FiOS TV, Suddenlink Communications, AT&T u-Verse and nearly 70 others. mtvU is dedicated to every aspect of college life, reaching students everywhere they are: on-air, online and on campus. mtvU programs music videos from emerging artists that can’t be seen anywhere else, news, student life features and initiatives that give college students the tools to advance positive social change. mtvU is always on campus, with more than 250 events per year, including exclusive concerts, giveaways, shooting mtvU series and more. For more information about mtvU, and a complete programming schedule, visit www.mtvU.com .

mtvU also owns and operates the College Media Network, the largest interactive network of online college newspapers in the US, and RateMyProfessors.com, the Internet’s largest listing of collegiate professor ratings. The College Media Network comprises 550 campus publications that serve institutions including Brown University , the University of Illinois , the University of Southern California , the University of Texas at Austin and Duke University , with a combined enrollment of over 5.5 million students, reaching an average of 5 million unique users each month. RateMyProfessors.com reaches approximately 2.9 million college students each month, via the site’s more than 6.6 million student-generated ratings of over 1,000,000 college professors.

About The Jed Foundation

Since its inception in 2000, The Jed Foundation has become the nation’s leading organization working to reduce emotional distress and prevent suicide among college students. Guided by an expert board of mental health professionals, the organization is changing the way parents and students think about mental health, paving the way for more young people to get the treatment if needed, and helping colleges build safer, healthier campus communities. The Jed Foundation was founded by Phil and Donna Satow after they lost their 20-year-old son, Jed, to suicide. The Foundation’s programs include ULifeline, an anonymous, confidential, online resource center, where college students can be comfortable searching for the information they need and want on mental health and suicide prevention. Currently, more than 1,500 colleges and universities participle in the ULifeline Network.


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