Being a full-time student and carrying a full or, even, part-time work schedule can be very demanding. Due to the steady increasing prices of tuition, books, housing and food, living comfortably is nearly impossible for most students.
Few students are fortunate enough not to have to work – however, being completely dependent on parents can also be difficult. Most of us students are somewhere in between the ages of 18 and 26. Independence means more to us than it ever has. We want to show our parents and ourselves that we can make it on our own. Most of us are perfectly capable of doing exactly that. But is it fair that we have to? Is it fair that we manage a full-time class schedule and are putting in 20 to 40 hours a week at our job to pay rent and keep ourselves fed, all while performing well at both?
Fair means nothing anymore. We’re not the generation of fair. We are the generation of “just do it, it’s expected of you”. So that’s what we do, or at least try pretty hard to do.
I am one of the fortunate few students not required to hold a job. I don’t have student loans stacking up. No rent due at the end of the month. There are groceries in my fridge.
What I lack is dignity. I’m 24 years old and I live with my mom.
If I want to go out with friends or get something to eat at school, I’ve got to receive my hand out. I may have it relatively easy financially, but I’m sacrificing my independence. I’m sacrificing the chance that any girl might want to get involved with me. It’s embarrassing, but I suppose it’s worth it.
Then there are those students driving a $25,000 car, tuition paid, bank account full and a killer pad. We all hate them. They are the students laughing at me when I try to ask them a few questions about working students. They just don’t understand. I suppose ignorance is bliss.
Six years ago, when I started college, I had opportunities to live the collegiate high life. I took them for granted. Had I known the importance of a little bit of responsibility, I may not be bumming rides from mother today. Maybe ignorance isn’t always so blissful. Let that be a lesson to those privileged few among you.
Most students I’ve spoken with tell me the same thing; they hate their job, their schedules are packed, and they are just hoping to get through the semester alive. Most employers are not forgiving either – being late or missing work due to school is no excuse. Actually, for some employers death is just about the only legitimate excuse.
Working students’ grades are dramatically affected. Stress levels are out the roof. And in some cases, neither employers nor instructors care very much. Retail seems to be the worst situation. Students I spoke to working at the mall brave late nights, uncompromising hours, and minimum wages. They wake up early each morning to tough out another day. And I have not spoken to one person who claims to be getting enough sleep. Granted, social lives and social networking undoubtedly play a huge roll. Nevertheless, it is still a problem.
I would encourage students to go for a campus job. The application process is a bit drudging, but they seem to be more willing to work with your class schedule. In some cases, they pay a little more than your typical retail or food service jobs too. But, aside from the lucky, relative few who work on campus, there aren’t many solutions to this problem, other than powering through.
All students are stressed, whether it be work, class or the girlfriend that is upset because you don’t spend enough time with her. This is the cost of a higher education. That few thousand a semester is only part of the price we pay. You’re going to sacrifice your time, your sleep, your dignity and probably a little piece of your sanity. But, there are far worse lives to be living than the one of a broke, stressed college student. Just do it. It’s expected of you.
By Corin Robinson