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The Hidden Struggle of New University Students: Loneliness and Its Impact on Performance and Retention

Updated: 6 days ago

The Hidden Struggle of New University Students: Loneliness and Its Impact on Performance and Retention

Entering university is a significant milestone for many young adults. It represents a time of new beginnings, independence, and academic challenges. However, for many new students, this transition can also be marked by feelings of loneliness and isolation. These feelings can have profound effects on their academic performance and overall university experience.

The Prevalence of Loneliness Among New Students

Loneliness among new university students is a widespread issue. A 2019 study conducted by the American College Health Association found that nearly 60% of students reported feeling very lonely at some point during the previous year. This statistic highlights the prevalence of loneliness as a serious concern within the student population.

The Impact of Loneliness on Academic Performance

Loneliness doesn't just affect students' emotional well-being; it can also have a detrimental impact on their academic performance. According to research published in the journal "Psychological Medicine," there is a significant correlation between loneliness and lower academic achievement. The study found that students who reported high levels of loneliness also tended to have lower grades and were less likely to complete their courses.

This relationship can be attributed to several factors. Lonely students may struggle with concentration, experience higher levels of stress, and lack motivation to attend classes or complete assignments. Additionally, they may miss out on the academic and social support that comes from forming study groups and friendships with peers.

Loneliness and Student Retention

Retention rates are a critical metric for universities, reflecting the percentage of students who continue their studies from one year to the next. Unfortunately, loneliness is a significant factor contributing to student attrition. The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center reports that only 61% of students at four-year institutions return for their second year. Among the reasons for dropping out, social isolation and loneliness are frequently cited.

When students feel disconnected from their peers and the university community, they are more likely to consider leaving. This sense of disconnection can make the challenges of university life seem insurmountable, leading to increased dropout rates.

Addressing Loneliness: Strategies for Universities

To combat loneliness and its negative effects, universities need to implement proactive strategies. Comprehensive orientation programs that include meaningful connections, social activities and opportunities for students to meet and interact can help ease the transition to university life. The importance of connections among freshmen at dorms cannot be overstated. Emotional support and well-being are critical during the transition to college, which can be emotionally challenging. Freshmen may experience homesickness, anxiety, and the stress of adjusting to a new environment. Making it easy for new students to create a network of peers who are going through similar experiences provides emotional support, reducing feelings of isolation and fostering a sense of belonging. This support network can be crucial in helping students navigate the ups and downs of college life.


1. American College Health Association. (2019). National College Health Assessment II: Reference Group Executive Summary Spring 2019.

2. Qualter, P., et al. (2015). Loneliness and social isolation in mental health interventions: A review. Psychological Medicine, 45(11), 1-15.

3. National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. (2020). Persistence and Retention - 2020.

JabberYak develops solutions that enhance the quality of life for university and college students by empowering new dorm residents to easily connect, engage, and socialize based on shared interests.



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