Are college students overworking themselves?

I think it’s safe to say that the U.S. is a country of workaholics. To be lounging around in the summer months in high school is deemed laziness. College has turned into an assumed pre-requisite for employment instead of learning for learning’s sake and the second thing your uncle asks you about at Christmas dinner after your grades is where you’re working.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge supporter of young adults learning responsibility and not getting life handed to them, but there seems to be far too many students on campus who are putting working their fifteen, twenty, even thirty hours a week before school.

For some students, a job is a must if they want to stay in school at all. But where do we draw the line between getting by and making these critical years more about making bank and scraping passing grades?

As a literature major, I can’t imagine more than half of my weekend being spent on the job. There are books to be read and papers to be written. I came to school not only to get a degree but to also expand my reading scope and to cross a couple crucial classics off my list. To have to resort to Sparknotes and Wikipedia summaries in order to have enough background and a couple quotes to write a C+ paper is ridiculous. To be forced to memorize the things related to your major that will be required again and again—formulas, the skeletal system, the IPA chart—and never retaining that information is frustrating. There will be classes where you have to get by with retaining it all just long enough to adequately dump it all on a test and forget it later, but there are also things worth your time to sit down and really understand for future reference.

If you’re a working student, how much are you working? Who do you feel is telling you that you have to work beyond your breaking point? Whether it is your parents, this workaholic culture or your pride, take a moment and ask yourself if it’s all really worth it.

Maybe it’s not even just your academic career that’s suffering, but also your relationships, sleep cycle, eating habits -- list goes on. When the workaholic culture takes precedence in sorting your priorities, these types of things are then seen as more selfish than they really are. I’m a big believer in taking time for yourself. Sit down, grab a cup of coffee or tea and just do nothing. Or take a well-deserved nap. Let your potentially A paper turn into a B or B+ in order to get to bed early for once and let your mind rest. If you find a particular day or two piling up with more homework than the rest of the week, tell your boss that something’s come up and you can’t work those days for the rest of the semester.

Step up and take charge. While your learning is more your objective in college than any work you’re doing, your mental and physical health are more important than both of those. So give it a rest and let your job take the backseat for now at least. Live life well and don’t let it turn into a chore.


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