Monday, September 19, 2016

I thought this was interesting - it's written by a student at UNC.

This piece is pretty frank and it is written by a student at a peer institution.  Perhaps there is nothing new there for you, but I will ask tomorrow if the undue stress that students are under is at least partially at root regarding the performance problems in class I have described in the last couple of posts.


  1. I actually disagree. I do not believe that stress is the main cause, I believe it's more driven by peer pressure and the countless events through Greek Life and the campus itself promoting partying. When all your friends are doing something, you are going to too because you do not want to do things alone and don't want to be the odd one one.

  2. The campus promotes partying? I'm out of my element here, but I found your claim interesting, to say the least. Can you give an example to support that?

    Also, on the impact of peer pressure, does it have limits? There's been a lot of press about that guy who was on the Stanford swim team who has now been expelled form the university. I very much hope that guy's behavior can't be explained by peer pressure. Are you arguing that's what happened?

  3. If you run through Facebook, Twitter, or various other social media platforms you will see "Illinois Bar Crawls" or "#1 Party School Bar Crawl". Our student population promotes partying. Greek Life is centered around partying, events happen every week from bar crawls to exchanges to date events; they all involve alcohol.

    Peer pressure has limits, of course. The Stanford swimmer should be expelled and put in prison for his actions. That was not peer-pressure that was him being an awful human being. He deserves life behind bars. While that situation arose from going out and drinking, nobody peer-pressured him into raping an unconscious girl.

    College is stressful, but I do not believe stress drives students to consume large amounts of alcohol. Ever since we were young college has always been portrayed as a party, you're away from your parents and can do what you want for the first time. I believe that plays a role, we equate college with learning and getting a good job after college, but also with partying. At least that's how I believe society has shaped our view of college.

  4. You use the word "campus" in a way I wouldn't. I'm thinking about the Chancellor, the Vice-Chancellor for Student Affairs, the Dean of Students, and on down the line of authority. None of them would condone excessive student drinking. That the student run organizations do is a different matter. To me, they are not the campus, though they clearly are located on campus.

    Some other factors that surely matter here include the drinking age. It was 18 when I was in college. In effect, the increase in the drinking age gave the greek houses some monopoly power about serving alcohol to those under 21.

    The college students are in also matters. My sense is that engineering students party less because the academic demands are greater on them.

    It is actually quite difficult to parse out the factors. I don't doubt that peer pressure matters and that social networking accentuates that. (I will trust what you report and decline to make my own search for this information.) But there have been other pieces written about stress, particularly on high academically achieving students that you should at least be aware of.

    One is this piece in The Atlantic from a couple of years ago on The Silicon Valley Suicides. Another is the book called Excellent Sheep. My sense is that at the U of I, if a student has a high GPA the student feels a lot of pressure to maintain that. Students who are closer to the median maybe don't feel it as much.