Furman University's Student Newspaper

The Paladin

Furman University's Student Newspaper

The Paladin

Furman University's Student Newspaper

The Paladin

Student-Faculty Interpersonal Relationships Lower Stress, Study Finds

Courtesy of Furman Athletics

Stress is a common occurrence on college campuses.

The Fourtitude Project, a four-year study involving the class of 2018, is investigating stress factors in students’ lives. This study involves four universities: Furman, Duke, Davidson and Johnson C. Smith University.

Last week, a CLP called “Stress Happens!” highlighted the research that the Fortitude Project has gathered thus far.

Defining resilience as a “dynamic process of successful adaptation to adversity,” the study, funded by the Duke Endowment, explored how intrapersonal, interpersonal and institutional resources improve students’ daily lives and limit stress.

At Furman there are 217 panelists involved, which is about 28% of the senior class. By the end of the study, 13 hour-long assessments will be analyzed. This proves that the project has gathered a reasonable amount of data to interpret the results from the sample of students.

Five different domains of stress were used when analyzing the panel: academic, social, health, financial and environment. According to the data, the highest levels of stress occur in Oct. of students’ freshman year. The number one stressor across all four years at Furman is academics. Time management stayed consistent as the second stressor, while the third related to making social decisions.

An interesting point raised by the panelists was how academic stress at Furman increased over time. Conversely, at Duke and Davidson, academic stress decreased as students move forward year to year. An explanation for this finding is that Furman students value high GPA and class ranking as crucial to success, survey results report.

In thinking about ways to alleviate stress levels, the panelists describe a conceivable solution. Creating meaningful relationships with faculty members outside of the classroom is associated with stress relief for students.

“Hopefully that’s why [students] chose a school like Furman, so [they] can have contact on a regular basis with faculty,” Psychology Department Chair Dr. Cinnamon Stetler said. “Faculty are accessible and [in] taking advantage of this access, that is the benefit of a small, liberal arts college.”

Speaking to faculty predicts two different things: higher GPA and lower levels of depression. Panelists who claimed to speak often to faculty “tended to report greater feelings of belonging in the future,” Dr. Stetler added.

The project is not over yet. Panelists still have two more assessments to complete. Once all of the data is gathered, the study aims to start evidence-based programs to help all students at Furman manage stress.

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