I'm Over The University Culture Of Studying To The Breaking Point

I'm Over The University Culture Of Studying To The Breaking Point

When you graduate, what will matter more -- how many sleepless nights you had, or how much happiness you found being at the school of your dreams?

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In a recent browsing of my Twitter feed, I found a thread that really stuck with me. It was a long description of what it means when students struggle as a part of university culture or boast about how difficult their studies, work, or educational pursuits have been.

This is something I've thought a lot about throughout my time as a student. It seemed like, even in high school, that everyone wanted to have spent the most hours studying in the library, wanted to have stayed up the latest, or have had the most caffeine.

Part of it, on a surface level, seems like we're all working really hard and we're striving for excellence. That's great, right?

In essence, it is. But what's really happening is a culture that is taking form on university campuses. Gone are the days where we simply come into contact with pressure, competition, and difficulty leveling up to our classmates at a university. Now, we've got that, in addition to this culture of toxic struggling.

Everyone thinks that to be struggling the most means you're doing the best. That it's attractive, as a student, to be the one to spend the most hours, drink the most Red Bull, and to be the most ready for a test. It's almost like we're all trying to prove to ourselves and the rest of the world that we're ready to kill ourselves to get the grade so that when we don't we have the security blanket of hey, you tried really hard.

This Twitter thread inspired my friends and me quite a bit. But for me, I've had the luck to have parents who have taught me from the time I was in high school and things really ramped up in the studying arena that my sleep, my family, my meals, and my happiness come first. So entering college, I've developed a mindset that keeps me from locking myself in the library for days on end. I sleep when I need to, I stop when I need to, and I take breaks when I need to (sometimes maybe too often).

I've found there are times here at school where I get caught up in that culture, too, though. I want to spend X amount of hours at the library to feel like I'm being productive, to feel like I'm a stellar student, to feel like I've got it all handled. But then I understand that this culture of toxic studying and letting yourself go also works around a formula, that every method of preparation will work for every person. And sometimes hours upon hours in the library and 18 iced coffees isn't the trick to it all (maybe more like all the time).

Don't get me wrong -- I admire the people who can do it, who can study from dawn to dusk and then some, and those that can balance their self-care and their exams are champions to me.

But I don't admire the people who are stuck in the culture of seeing who can out-study, who can out-sleep deprive, and who can do the absolute most.

Because what's the reward? Sure, the A. The GPA. The satisfaction. But why not sleep, balance your time, study as you need to but no go over the top, and still get the A? Because maybe then, you'll be a little happier, healthier, and more prepared to live a balanced life in the workforce.

This is a culture that is perpetuated among all majors, all students, and through all universities. We think it's cool to let ourselves suffer to get the grade, and most of the time it's not even for the grade -- it's to be a part of the culture that competes for who can do the most. To show the world how far you're willing to go so when it may be (and I hope this isn't true if you spent all those hours in the library) falls through, you still look like you did everything you could at whatever cost.

To me, getting that 100% will never be worth giving up 100% of my happiness, my sleep, my passions, and the things outside of my academic goals that fuel me to be better and succeed.

Thread referenced: https://twitter.com/_rvalentina_/status/1071773749010145281?s=21

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Dear Mom and Dad, You Don't Understand What College Is Actually Like In The 21st Century

I can skip class. I can leave early, and I can show up late. But, ya see, I am not doing that.
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College is not what you think it is. I am not sitting in a classroom for six hours listening to a professor speak about Shakespeare and the WW2.

I am not given homework assignments every night and told to hand them in next class.

I do not know my daily grade for each of the five classes I am taking, and I don't know if my professor even knows my name.

College today is a ton different than how it was 20+ years ago.

I go to class for about maybe three hours a day. Most of my time working on "college" is spent outside of the classroom. I am the one responsible for remembering my homework and when my ten-page essay is due.

I can skip class. I can leave early, and I can show up late. But, ya see, I am not doing that. I am a responsible person, even if you do not think I am.

I do get up every morning and drive myself to class. I do care about my assignments, grades, my degree, and my career.

I spend a lot of time on campus having conversations with my friends and relaxing outside.

I am sick of older generations thinking that us millennials are lazy, unmotivated, and ungrateful. While I am sure there are some who take things for granted, most of us paying to get a degree actually do give a s**t about our work ethic.

Dear mom and dad, I do care about my future and I am more than just a millennial looking to just get by.

Cover Image Credit: Kaitlyn Moore

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How To Stay Mentally Healthy In College

Our mental health is just as important as our physical health.

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Staying healthy in college seems really, really hard to do. Classes, friends, clubs, and the whole fact of living by yourself can create a lot of stress and anxiety. Most students, and people in general, don't really know how to deal with stress or how to take care of themselves mentally, leading to unhealthy behaviors physically and mentally. If you don't take care of your mental health, your physical health will suffer eventually. Here are a few tips and tricks to help take care of your mental health:

1. Eat a well-balanced diet

Eating fruits, vegetables, grains, and other healthy foods will help you feel more energized and motivated. Most people associate eating a balanced diet as beneficial for your physical health, but it is just as important for your mental health.

2. Keep a journal and write in it daily

Writing can be one of the most relaxing and stress-relieving things you can do for yourself. Writing down the issues you are struggling with or the problems you are encountering in your life on a piece of paper can help you relax and take a step back from that stress.

3. Do something that brings you joy

Take some time to do something that brings you joy and happiness! It can be really easy to forget about this when you are running around with your busy schedule but make some time to do something you enjoy. Whether it be dancing, writing, coloring, or even running, make some time for yourself.

4. Give thanks

Keeping a gratitude log — writing what brings you joy and happiness — helps to keep you positively minded, which leads to you becoming mentally healthy. Try to write down three things that brought you joy or made you smile from your day.

5. Smile and laugh

Experts say that smiling and laughing help improve your mental health. Not only is it fun to laugh, but laughing also helps you burn calories! There's a reason why smiling and laughing are often associated with happiness and joyful thoughts.

6. Exercise

Staying active and doing exercises that energize your body will help release endorphins and serotonin, which both act as a natural antidepressant. Keeping an active lifestyle will help you stay happy!

7. Talk out your problems

All of us deal with stress and have problems from time to time. The easiest and probably most beneficial way to deal with this stress and anxiety is to talk it out with a close friend, family member, or even a counselor.

8. See a counselor, peer mentor, or psychologist

Just like it was stated in the previous point, it is beneficial to talk out your problems with a counselor. We all have issues, and it is OK to ask for help.

Keeping up your mental health in college can be a struggle, and it may be hard to even admit you are not mentally healthy. This is OK; you are not alone. If you want to see a psychologist or would like to learn more about mental health, there are resources. You can also take a self-assessment of your mental health. If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide, please, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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