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Wednesday October 4, 2000

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Students stressed by jobs, school

Headline Photo


Nursing junior Alexis Cohen runs in an order at Frog n' Firkin Thursday.

By Erin Mahoney

Arizona Daily Wildcat

UA advisers strive to help balance classes, work

Students who work during school may be more stressed than other college students, UA experts say.

"Work can be very enhancing, but it can also be very stressful," said Jill Grassman, a mental health clinician at the University of Arizona's Campus Health Center.

Grassman, a certified professional counselor, said working students, like other students, feel pressured.

"There are so many variables," Grassman said. "A lot of it is common look at all aspects of a student's life."

Increasingly, employers have sought students with some kind of pre-graduation career experience, said Jack Perry, a counselor at the UA's career services office.

"A lot of employers definitely look at students who have been working in addition to their academic studies," Perry said. "Employers are emphasizing that they'd like to see that."

Employers prefer students to work part-time - about 20 hours per week - but Perry said students must consider their own schedules to prevent anxiety.

"It (stress) is an added fact of life for students who need the money and need to work," he said.

Richard Kissling, the associate dean of the UA Honors College, said when students aren't meeting the college's expectations, he usually asks whether they have a part-time or full-time job.

A typical 15-unit class schedule is equivalent to a full-time job, Kissling said, so students should try not to overburden themselves.

"If you're working even 10 to 15 hours per week, you're talking (the equivalent of) a 55 to 60 hour-per-week job," he said.

Still, the center doesn't dissuade students from working, Kissling said.

"We don't encourage them one way or another," he said. "We try to give them a good sense of what the expectations are."

If handled correctly, he said, jobs can help a student's schoolwork.

"It's been my experience that students tend to be better organized the busier they are," he said.

And stress, too, can be a good thing, Grassman said..

"It's not something that's abnormal," she said. "It really has to do with living a healthy, balanced life. You never get rid of it."

Symptoms of stress include rapid heartbeat, muscle tension, cold or sweaty hands, and rapid, shallow breathing, Grassman said.

In time, excessive stress can cause emotional, physical, behavioral or mental consequences - such as back pain, depression and irriatbility, she added.

Grassman said she didn't have any specific recommendations for working students, but said stress is usually managed by relaxation techniques.

"Balance is the key," she said.

Perry said the career services office helps its own student employees by limiting their hours to 15 per week.

"More than that is definitely too much of a burden," he said.

Kissling recommended that students find jobs that allow them to work around their schoolwork.

"It (working) gets very taxing," he said. "The study times wane."