To be a college freshman is to be drowning in debt, struggling to grow up, academically adrift, and--of all indignities--bested by fish in math. But it gets worse! Not only are undergrads learning and studying far less than earlier students, they also appear to have hit a record level of emotional stress while doing so. The latest depressing academic report, "The American Freshman," finds a conspicuous number of the 200,000 surveyed freshman reporting "below average" emotional health, finds the New York Times Tamar Lewin.

Female students appear to be particularly affected: every year since 1985 women have indicated emotional health levels below that of men--and "that gap has widened" in recent years (Caitlin Flanagan may have a theory regarding this development).

What gives? Why are college students more stressed even as they spend an increasing amount of time socializing, and less time studying? One theory: emotional stress and depression seems to be afflicting students even before they enroll as freshman. "Students know their generation is likely to be less successful than their parents', so they feel more pressure to succeed than in the past," remarked Jason Ebbeling, director of residential education at Southern Oregon University, to the Times. "These days, students worry that even with a college degree they won't find a job that pays more than minimum wage, so even at 15 or 16 they're thinking they'll need to get into an M.B.A. program or Ph.D. program."

Students, the Wall Street Journal has a suitable prescription: a jello-shot primer.

[H/T: Daily Intel]