Study finds female self-esteem decreases throughout college

It is no surprise that a young woman’s insecurity grows once they are admitted into college. Freshman year of college is looking at a wealth of opportunities, but in retrospect is also a wealth of self-doubts and immediate pressures.

According to an article in USA Today, a study conducted last April states that female seniors studying at Boston College left the university with lower self-confidence than when they entered their freshman year. The study was broken into two portions: one for females in their freshman year, the other taken by females in their senior year.

Most female students gave themselves weaker self-evaluations in the second survey.

This does not seem all that surprising when considering the society and current culture we inhabit.

College is a stressful environment for most students currently attending. Student loans are a daunting prospect for those close to graduation, the job market is more competitive and while the work load is not nearly as time consuming as one may imagine, college has the unique position of also being the time when many teenagers become young adults, an anxiety ridden prospect in its own right. College is where individuals “find” themselves and that, combined with everyday pressures, could lead to a young woman’s self-confidence to become progressively lower.

Photo by Flickr user Helga Weber

Not only are women faced with academic pressures, but with public ones as well. Women are held to a different physical standard than men. Every day there is a new luxury diet to discuss and fall into; magazines decorate our shopping centers telling us how to dress, how to lose our pesky love handles and how to attain the best man. Clothing sizes seem to be shrinking at a rapid pace, careers such as engineering and sciences seem to be male-dominated. We are always being put in the position where society believes it can dictate what is and isn’t acceptable behavior.

Public perceptions and judgments such as these follow women from childhood into old age, but while high school is a feeding ground for insecurity, college is where you are on display. Failure is allowed in high school, making mistakes, embarrassing yourself or finding yourself is seen as the norm in high school but in college every misstep seems like the last one. Every mistake could be a hindrance to a person’s career, social life, or even romantic one. Women are being force-fed these idealist images at every turn and it only grows in its toxicity as one furthers along their academic career, because with age comes a certain amount of expectations that were not there previously.

It is no surprise that women in their senior year of college gave themselves a poorer evaluation than freshman women did. With freshmen, the competitiveness was not as heightened, their looks were not as time consuming, their mistakes not as calculated. Women have a good amount of pressure on them and rather than letting up, as seen by the media, it seems as if it is here to stay.