No matter how you view perfectionism, a new study shows that today’s college students are more likely to exhibit its traits than past generations.
Survey data collected from more than 41,000 students who attended college in the US, Canada, and UK between 1989 and 2016 shows that three key types of perfectionism have become more common in recent years.
“Our findings suggest that self-oriented perfectionism, socially prescribed perfectionism, and other-oriented perfectionism have increased over the last 27 years,” researchers conclude in a study published last month by the American Psychological Association (APA). “We speculate that this may be because, generally, American, Canadian, and British cultures have become more individualistic, materialistic, and socially antagonistic over this period, with young people now facing more competitive environments, more unrealistic expectations, and more anxious and controlling parents than generations before.”
College-bound kids from across the globe are increasingly internalizing the same harmful message: Only excellence will do when it comes to grades, test scores, extracurricular activities, and college admission.
But expecting across-the-board greatness is a “set-up,” clinical psychologist David Gleason told counselors and admission professionals on Tuesday.
For the seventh straight year, anxiety was the top concern of students seeking mental health services on campus, according to a survey by the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors.
Data show that 51 percent of college students who visited an on-campus counseling center in 2015-16 reported struggling with anxiety. The other most common concerns were depression (41 percent), relationship issues (34 percent), suicidal ideation (20.5 percent), self-injury (14 percent), and alcohol abuse (10 percent).