Students versus Counselors: An investigation of prominent stressors and outreach programming from the perspective of Scottish undergraduates and university counselors

Meghan Leigh Pickett


Rates of stress in Scottish undergraduate students are increasing at alarming rates. One study found that almost 90% of these students reported experiencing high levels of stress1. Despite consistent findings that Scottish undergraduates experience higher levels of stress relative to undergraduates in other countries, little is known about this population’s primary sources of stress. Additionally, though university counseling centers provide outreach programming as a way of addressing student stress, not much is known about whether students perceive this programing to be effective. The purpose of this study was to compare student and campus counselor perceptions with respect to (a) prominent sources of stress among Scottish college students, and (b) types of outreach programs that they believe would be most beneficial for reducing student stress. Participants consisted of eight Scottish undergraduates and four campus counselors at a large Scottish university, who participated in a semi-structured interview that assessed perceptions of prominent student stressors, as well as the overall success of stress relief outreach programming provided by the university counseling center. Qualitative analysis was conducted to explore themes with respect to the two stated research aims. Results indicated that students saw their academic stressors as being more dynamic and influential than the counselors, while the counselors were more focused on individual characteristics. Outreach was seen by the students as ineffective and by the counselors as effective, but underused. This disconnect would suggest a need for more student input in programs to address issues they see as particularly relevant. Equally important is the need for programs that address awareness of the services available.


Stress; Undergraduates; Outreach

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