There are times, quite often, where I feel like I’m drowning as a college student. It’s seemingly impossible to balance just about every aspect of life during these troublesome years. You want to achieve a 4.0 by acing every exam and studying every single power point slide. Frat parties are awfully tempting, especially when you see how fun they seem on everybody’s Snapchats (not to mention you also want to stay in the social loop of things). Work demands your service and it’s the only way to earn a solid paycheck. Your family and friends yearn for your time and attention. Your body begs you to rest and to allow yourself some down time. It’s exhausting. Overwhelming. Like any opportunity of taking a breath of fresh air shies away until a Sunday’s moment of silence.
The question stands: Why on Earth is being a college student so incredibly difficult? I find that when I complain about my life stresses as a student, especially to adults such as my parents, they don’t appear too surprised. “It’s healthy stress,” my dad responds. “Hard now, easy later,” my mom says. “That’s just life for ya, kid,” condescends the rest. It makes me regret expressing my exhaustive state; looking at life in retrospect isn’t as easy for our rapidly advancing world. So much changes in so few years that the older generations can’t always relate to the current college student’s struggles; they’re just all to different.
Some college classes can be intriguing and truly pleasant to attend, don’t get me wrong. I have (and have had) many classes that I love, and I’m sure many other students who are passionate about their major/course material do too. However, a lot of these classes, no matter how fascinating the lectures, can feel like a burden. An overabundance of power points, assignments, pop quizzes, and other graded materials can squash a student’s love for a class. It makes them feel more like an obligation rather than a hobby/interest. Some will say school shouldn’t necessarily be enjoyable, that it isn’t meant to be fun; I beg to differ. Students should learn without constant pressure to memorize dozens of Quizlet flashcards before a test. Lectures should fulfill a curiosity rather than an attendance grade.
Along with the weight of schoolwork comes the pressure to fit in socially. Weekend festivities are key to letting loose after a busy week of classes. Sometimes after really rough weeks, letting loose just means falling asleep at 8 pm without setting a morning alarm, ordering a ton of takeout, and binge watching entertaining Facebook videos. Other times, it means playing catch up on that essay you forgot about or tending to other work that needs attention. Collegiate obligation burdens the student who wishes to be social. You always feel like you have to choose: do I use this time to be social or to study?
And I don’t want to hear the reutterance of “learning how to balance social life and student life,” it’s not that simple. If you party on a Friday night, you may be spending all day Saturday recovering. Social excursions can be fun while they last, but may seem to last longer than anticipated (which cuts into potential study time as well). Everyone wants a fun group of friends and everyone wants weekend plans, but there’s always going to be obligation tapping on your shoulder.
Weekend plans are only attainable with a couple of bucks. If mommy and daddy don’t pay everything and FAFSA deems you unworthy, you’re probably working a job or two. College students work for a pay check to live off of, but this also means less time focusing on school which essentially embodies the gradual steps towards a future (and hopefully well-paying) career. Students can be so busy with work that it brings their priorities into question: work or school? You can’t go to school without working a ton, but then again who knows if you’ll even pass school if you’re always working instead of studying. Loans are an alternative, but the interest that accumulates along with the prevalence of student-debt horror stories deters many students from seeking out that option. Sometimes they’re not even approved for one. Grants and scholarships help ease the burden of a busy work schedule, but FAFSA and her accomplices are a picky bunch.
The only true way to combat the stresses of college is to persevere through them as much as you can. I know it's treacherous to fry your brain with decks of flashcards, but it feels amazing to walk out of the classroom on test day with a huge "I-know-I-aced-this" smirk on your face. Trying to finish everything during the week before the weekend arrives is challenging, but let your motivation be the fact that it'll give you more time to go out and have fun. And if you're tired, that's okay, our greatest memories don't necessarily include a sufficient night's rest. Working yet studying as much as you can is a difficult balancing act, but know you're not alone. All college students face these struggles. Hopefully, someday in the future, we can be the faces of change and better the college system as a whole.