Survey shows 75% of new college students experience separation anxiety from their pets

College freshman have plenty to be anxious about, but a new study shows that for 75% of them, not seeing the pet they left behind at home is certainly one of them. 

Three in four new students say they have separation anxiety from their pets, according to researchers from Washington State University. Their findings, published in the journal Anthrozoos, additionally showed that one in four respondents called their separation anxiety symptoms “moderate to severe.”

That’s no surprise, considering that a different poll earlier this year showed three in five people consider their pets their soulmates.

While the WSU poll was rather small, only 150 students, its findings are still important, argues study lead author Alexa Carr, a doctoral student at the university.

“Students who are struggling with missing their pets should know that they’re not alone,” Carr says. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with them if they are experiencing a lot of distress from leaving their pets. It can be an isolating experience to lose that coping resource.”

The study also found programs that let students interact with animals on campus can actually make their longing for their own pets worse.

That said, Carr doesn’t seem to think it’s wise for schools to let students bring their family’s furry friends with them on the road to higher education. “It’s a big responsibility to take care of an animal, and would a student then able to balance their school responsibilities, social lives and jobs?” she asks.

Carr adds, “There are more things to take into consideration and explore before we could advocate for more pets on campus.”