How Entrepreneurship Empowers Students To Reduce Their Stress

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In a New York Times article, Brian Van Brunt, director of counseling at Western Kentucky University and president of the American College Counseling Association, was quoted as saying, “More students are arriving on campus with problems, needing support, and today’s economic factors are putting a lot of extra stress on college students, as they look at their loans and wonder if there will be a career waiting for them on the other side.”

“Wondering if a career will be waiting for them on the other side” is part of the problem because that mentality can lead to students feeling powerless to meet the transition into the workforce ahead. Teaching entrepreneurship in the classrooms will go a long way toward reducing stress of college freshmen, and all college students. Why?

1) Teaching entrepreneurship gives students a sense of empowerment and ownership over their strengths, passions and career choices, alleviating the recession-caused fears of whether or not someone else will hire them;
2) Instead of feeling pressured to compete with friends/classmates for existing jobs, students can be encouraged to collaborate & leverage each others’ strengths to create jobs of the future;
3) Entrepreneurship is about experiential learning & growing comfortable with taking risks, making mistakes and learning from them quickly as you move forward. That’s the best lesson in resiliency I can think of!
4 Entrepreneurship teaches young people that success is about passion, persistence and relationship-building. In a time when far too many students are told that it’s all about test scores, letters of recommendation and GPAs, this will go a long way toward reducing stress.

I speak from experience as a former summa cum laude college grad. Launching my own business while in my twenties empowered me to realize that I could chart my own future and be directly responsible for the success of my company. Yes, it’s scary but it’s also a great confidence booster. Recession-proofing myself means that I take complete responsibility for my success or failure and learn new skills every day, leveraging the strengths and talents of others in the process instead of worrying about what I’m not “good enough” in. How many students are taught to zero in on their deficits instead of celebrating their strengths? Example: You get your report card. You have four A’s and one B-. What do you focus your attention on first?

Grades are important, but we’re taught that if we don’t get an A, we’re doomed to failure. This all-or-nothing thinking is also propelling so many students to stress, overextend and overachieve.

We also need to lead by example to teach our young people that taking care of our health makes us better, stronger, wiser people and greater assets to the companies we work for, whether it’s our own companies or not. That means making sleep a priority, as well as committing to positive stress reduction therapies like exercise, yoga & meditation, face-to-face connections with friends (instead of texting and facebooking exclusively) and also being brave enough to ask for help if we’re struggling. Comments? I’d love to hear them!

In reference to College Freshman Report Record Stress Levels on ABC News

~ Maria Pascucci
Founder & CEO, Campus Calm™

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