College students juggle a lot throughout their four years of school. If we want to graduate in four years, we have to take at least 15 credit hours per semester. That doesn't seem like too much, right? In high school we had to take seven classes per semester, all day every day. In college you can create your own schedule to where you only have one class a day, or even all of your classes in one day. Sounds amazing to be able to pick and choose when you have to go to school. But it's not as easy as it seems. Those are just the core 15 hours that we are required to go to class. That doesn't account for the hours of reading and homework and papers that we're given each week.
If you have a class that meets twice a week, the teacher might require you to read two chapters a week, each being about 25 pages long. Okay, that's only 50 or so pages. But that's only for one class. If every class gives you that much reading, you're looking at about 125-250 pages a week, depending on if the class meets once or twice a week and how much reading the teacher gives.
That doesn't seem like that big of a deal at first. That's basically the size of your average novel. But then you add in reading responses and class projects and group projects and essays and any other homework you might have. Not only are you reading that minimum of 125 pages a week, you're also writing 2 page responses to the readings for each class. You're also writing a five page essay for one of those classes. You're coordinating with your classmates on when you can find a time where your schedules work out and you can get together to work on your group project.
It's starting to sound a little bit overwhelming, but there's seven days in a week. That's enough time to get all of your work done and still have a social life, because yes, that's important for your health. But most college students have to work to support themselves. There are that lucky few who don't have to work and can focus on their studies, but that's not the case for most.
In order to make a living, a student would have to work at least part time, if not more. Part time is about 20 hours a week. With a minimum wage job, 20 hours would only give you $166 a week before taxes. That's not enough to pay rent and buy food and buy books and pay utilities and any other bills one might have. Most college students end up working more than that. Probably about 25-30 hours a week. Add that to your 15 credit hours of school plus your three hours a night (at least) for homework, you're looking at about 61 hours a week spent on work and school. There are 168 hours in a week, so 61 hours doesn't seem that bad.
It is recommended that humans get 8 hours of sleep per night. That's another 56 hours out of your week for sleep. That adds up to 117 out of 168. That leaves 51 hours for down time. Just barely over two days. I don't know about anyone else, but i use the one full day off that I have to do things that I need to do, such as grocery shopping, laundry, cleaning, and whatever other adult thing I have to do. It doesn't leave much time for social interaction which is very important to a persons well being.
These all add up, and they can be very draining. That 117 hours builds up on top of our shoulders and weigh us down. When I have something due in ever class one week, or I have two or three tests a day, or three papers due, there is no room for a social life. I have had my fair share of breakdowns just because there isn't enough time in the week to get everything done. I've had to give up shifts at work so that I could finish a paper. This weight is exhausting, and it can leave someone feeling like they can't do it. There have been countless times that I've just wanted to drop out of school because I felt like I was going to be a failure.
This pressure can be so overwhelming that it becomes unhealthy. The next time a college student is having a rough day, or even having a mental break down, don't judge them. Think about the weight that's resting on top of them, making it extremely difficult to continue moving forward. Being a college student is not an easy job. There is so much expected of you in so little time. It's a lot to ask of one person. We're doing our best to make it through, so forgive us for snapping and for screaming and for breaking down crying. We're only humans, doing the work of super-humans.