College students are ‘quiet quitting’ to preserve their mental health: report – The Hill

Story at a glance

  • A third of college students report ‘quiet quitting’ or prioritizing their mental health and work-life balance over school work.

  • That’s based on new survey results from 1,000 current students between the ages 18 and 24. 

  • Experts suspect the trend could be a result of pandemic-era shifts in education.

Quiet quitting is becoming more popular among U.S. workers, due in part to pandemic-related burnout. 

Now, new data show college students are hopping on the trend as one-third of these individuals report putting less effort into schoolwork in an effort to preserve their mental health. 

Quiet quitting refers to employees not going above and beyond in the workplace, and only doing exactly what their job description requires, according to Gallup. In the school setting, the definition refers to students only doing what’s required in courses and not putting in their full or extra effort. 

An survey conducted among 1,000 community, public, and private college students revealed more than one-third put only some or little effort into their schoolwork while one in five reported their school-life balance is unhealthy. 

In addition, 60 percent of respondents agreed with the statement “C’s get degrees,” meaning students don’t need to go above and beyond in the classroom in order to graduate.

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When specifically questioned about their school work habits, 34 percent of students said they do not go above and beyond what is required and 30 percent said they just put “some” effort into the work.

The majority of these individuals said they do so in an effort to preserve their mental and physical health. Other reasons provided included procrastination, not having enough time and being too comfortable with low expectations.

Class formats could also play a role in quiet quitting as “64 percent of college students somewhat (40 percent) or strongly (24 percent) agree that they put less effort into their online classes than in-person classes,” authors wrote. 

Students tended to rank their mental health as a priority over school work, while 21 percent reported feeling “stressful” about their classes this semester. Good grades, physical health, relationships, and finances all ranked below mental health in importance.

When it comes to grade point average, college students agree a lower GPA will make it more difficult to get a job after college, despite evidence saying otherwise. However, many report low effort and lack of enthusiasm towards their classes.

“After being forced to adjust often to remote learning during their college years where non-educational activities and student interaction, which are often the activities supporting mental health and engagement [were less frequent], it is not surprising that this group has put this at the forefront of their needs, whether still at school or looking for their first position after school,” career strategist Stacie Haller told 

Students witnessing their parents prioritizing work-life balance and mental health, and an increased focus on preserving mental health in the media could have all contributed to this rising trend, Haller continued. 

“As in the workforce, educational institutions are needing to address different and more significant challenges of their respective populations and their changing needs.”

The survey was carried out online between September 2 and 7, 2022, and all participants were between the ages 18 and 24. The majority of respondents were full-time students. 

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