Higher Education Can Lead To More Stress, Depressing New Study Shows

Your high school teachers weren't lying when they said that higher education is pretty darn important. It has advantages that extend way beyond just making more money — like increased career mobility, greater health benefits, and experiencing an overall higher quality of life. Unfortunately, your college degree comes with a downside as well: a recent study shows that higher education could be making you more stressed.

You're probably thinking, well yeah, any kid during finals week could have told you that, and you would be absolutely right on that count, because finals are literally the worst. But this study didn't look at short-term stress like tests; it focused on how stressed out participants felt overall. According to Science Daily, researchers from the University of Toronto asked participants to fill out a survey agreeing or disagreeing with statements designed to gauge their senses of mastery, which is how well someone feels they can control their life. People with more education have greater senses of mastery, which isn't surprising considering their higher income and quality of life. However, the participants with higher education also reported higher levels of stress from "overwork, job pressure, and work-to-family conflict." So, ironically enough, the jobs that pay so well are also stressing these people out like, a lot. Figures. 

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The lead researcher of the study, Dr. Scott Schieman, points out that this is typical of people with higher status — the higher up you are, the more things there are to offset the benefits. He calls the pattern the "stress of higher status," because scientists aren't known for their creative naming abilities.

That being said, education still has benefits that far outweigh the stress. Not only does it pay more 
— people with a college degree make around 15 percent more than their peers with just high school diplomas — but the well-educated also lead healthier lifestyles and report more job satisfaction. Plus, even with all the job stress, the study participants with higher educations still felt more in control of their lives. So basically, stress is bad for you and everything, but next time there's a lot of pressure at work, instead of quitting your job and disappearing to start a new life, maybe think about just taking up meditation instead.

Image: Bernard Goldbach/Flickr, Giphy

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