With the arrival of summer, college students are likely to feel less confident and less able to handle stressful situations, according to research published this week in the Journal of Health Psychology.
The new findings offer a lesson for the nation’s young adults, who often find themselves facing their first job or major life change without much guidance.
“Students should know the difference between getting a good grade and getting a bad grade, and they should have a sense of what that means to get a job,” said Andrew G. Pfeffer, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Irvine, who conducted the research.
The finding, however, also helps explain why students often leave college with a less than ideal grasp of how to handle life after graduation.
“In our study, we saw that when they walked out of school with less than the right skills, they tended to be more likely to have lower levels of confidence and more likely not to have the right job prospects,” Pfeerer said.
Students with low self-confidence are also less likely to be employed after graduation, Pfeffer said.
“This is something that really needs to be addressed in the school system and in the workplace,” he said.
For students who leave school with a lack of confidence, the loss of social support and the lack of opportunities often result in low self to self relationships and decreased self-esteem, said study author David H. Siegel, a doctoral student at the College of Human Ecology at Rutgers University in New Jersey.
“That’s the last thing that the students need to be worrying about,” Siegel said.
In fact, one-quarter of students who left college with less confidence left their college with negative feelings toward themselves, Siegel wrote in an email.
“What students don’t realize is that the negative feelings they have are not because of a lack on their part of being in a good school, but they are the result of a general lack of self-efficacy in their life,” Siggs said.
He said it’s important for students to understand that there are consequences for leaving school early.
“The biggest problem is that students don�t really understand that they are leaving school with negative outcomes, that it’s their choice, and that the outcome of their choice will have a major impact on their lives,” he added.
For example, students who feel less connected with peers after leaving school may feel less motivated to attend college or pursue careers that pay better than they expected, he said, and students may be less likely than others to find a job.
The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health.