For many undergraduate students, university life is a major transition in their lives since they are accorded the chance to decide what to do without the undue influence of their parents. The students make various decisions regarding all aspects of their lives such as academics, social life and leisure activities (Baker, 2008). Smith and Renk (2007) added that amidst the new found freedom students have to struggle to meet the expectations related to their academic performance.
Have you ever experienced any form of academic pressure as a student? If the answer is no, then you need to sit and ponder if you are really excelling without stress. It is a fact that no matter what our academic goals maybe, we all struggle with myriad of stress or pressure. The term academic pressure has no clear-cut as it may mean different thing to different people according to ones understanding, it is therefore so encompassing but with regards to the topic, it is simply translated or coined as ‘‘academic stress’’ which is a mental distress with respect to some anticipated frustration associated with academic failure. This pressure can be equated with pressure cooker! Though, there is no doubt that school can be really tough. Academic pressure can come in different forms according to ones academic desire; goal or even procrastination which causes most of the academic stress that students suffer. For some, it may be the anxiety of being able to pass all their courses, most especially carryover courses, while for others; it may be the worries of trying to graduate with a good CGPA. Here in school, there are ranges of academic pressure we feel, derived from a need for perfection, worry over grades, parental pressure, sports or tough class loads. However, this academic pressure does not begin in the university, the panic attacks, nervous breakdown and fear of failure and depression are also apparent in many younger students in secondary schools. Though, in a class, we all have different stress, the same situation may not be stressful for everyone since we do not undergo the same feelings. Many at times, we see these pressures as too much to handle. Nevertheless, it is a prevalent stereotype that our Nigerian universities heap extreme amounts of academic pressure on their students and in my school that is completely true! It is a well known fact that the universities in this country do not pay maximum or rather optimum attention to extracurricular, students’ passion and hobbies. They are only merely and madly interested on your grades. With regards to these, schools, teachers, and parents not excluding the students place too much pressure on themselves to perform well in school.
It is a well known fact that this pressure that comes from academic could be harmful because students feel harried, stressed and overly anxious for the future! Most of the pressure/stress suffered by most students today are always caused by their unseriousness, I could vividly recall a quote by Benjamin Franklin ‘‘failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail’’. While it is true that students are always busy working, participating in sports, attending classes and studying, the fact becomes that even busy students need to find time to prepare for classes. No wonder Abraham Lincoln would always say that ‘‘you cannot escape the responsibilities of tomorrow by evading it today’’. Take a look at this scenario, ‘‘he showed up for biology class ready to take notes about the upcoming exam; he was shocked when at the beginning of the class, the Professor instructed everyone to put away their notes to take the exam’’. His habit of procrastination has left him struggling to catch-up. Academic pressure is becoming too much for students to handle this day because parents would always want their children to achieve straight A’s, students are always concerned and worried about what their parents think about their grades. Most of the time, students engage to much activities that does not add value to their grades rather they degrade them. Most of them use half of the semester for travels, watching television, going to bate centres while lecturers are on, hence, (Macan, Shahani, Dipboye and Philps, 1990), added that the academic stress faced by most students is attributed to poor study habits, such as poor time management. I think students should use a planner, learning how to study and scheduling courses appropriately, students can be better prepared, improve their grades and combat too much stresses. It is quite unethical to be trying to catch-up while exams are around the corner, hence the pressure, fear of failure will become too much for you to handle. Many a times, this pressure may lead to anxiety, suicide and staying longer than expected date for ones graduation. The pressure may also come as lecturers not helping matters to ease the work load for students, some of them hardly come to class because they are waiting for two or a week gap to the exam before they will show up with bulky and voluminous handouts to issue to the students to read. The students in trying to make good grades as they are only interested on your grades will try to cram the exact word on the handouts because most of the lecturers indulge in ‘‘give me what I gave you attitude’’. Tell me why the stress will not be too much for such students to handle. (Hansen and Hansen, 2008), will always say that cramming when studying is one thing and the ability to remember the studied material is another thing. At times, students opt for cramming subject matter when they find the content abstract or have little time to prepare for the exam (Brinthaupt and Shin, 2001). This is like an unwritten law in every Nigerian university and has affected students most especially the ones that are not too bright to withstand the pressure. It is therefore a prerequisite for failure for bright students that are not good crammers. The stress may also come as a result of competition; most students engage in competition for good grades that is, who will be at the top of the class, this leads to emotional stress and the student is always physically depressed because of lack of time to exercise the body. It is worth noting that if the ability to maintain task-relevant information in working memory is disrupted, performance may suffer.
Interventions to Alleviate or Control Academic Pressure
Understanding how stressful academic situation impact performance negatively calls for the need to use interventions to help students gets going when the going gets tough. The best way to control or alleviate this stress called academic pressure would be to choose the friends that will be positive and supportive, that is, having a group of friends that will help you maintain a healthy and enjoyable lifestyle. Always know that amidst all the aspects of university that students deal with on a daily basis, academics should take the priority. Secondly, incorporate more anticipation into your life, I think having something to look forward to will help you stave off academic stress. You should as well stop comparing yourself with others, know that it is so easy to fall into the trap of measuring your success with that of others, thus it could be subjective comparing yourself to others. You do not have the same background with the person, the same personal interest, resources or personal situation. Always know that it is foolish to only value your accomplishments based on how your accomplishments stack up to others. Learn how to be assertive and stand up for yourself; do not wait for people to tell you that you are working too hard, it is up to you to set strong boundaries otherwise, everyone around you will start pushing you around. To crown it all, students should always Endeavour to take notes during lectures as (Pressley, Yokoi, Meter, Etten, and Freebern, 1997), suggested that note taking is valuable primary way of creating records of subject matter presented in class for later review