People are like oranges: they have a lot to offer, but there’s a finite amount of juice in each one. No, don’t be alarmed, I haven’t gone all Hannibal Lector from midterm madness—I’m not talking about actually juicing humans. What I mean to say is that we all have a finite amount of energy to give.
If I may continue stretching my morbid metaphor to its breaking point, college is like a big citrus juicer, spinning and grinding the juice and pulp out of my proverbial life-orange. Now this wouldn’t be so much of a problem if school were the only commitment to worry about. But, like many college students, it’s not.
Coming of age in the middle of the Great Recession, I have an ingrained fear of debt, and have therefore avoided it at all costs. That means no student loans for me as long as I can help it. As of now, my education has been completely funded by FAFSA, scholarships, help from my generous middleclass parents, and my own pockets. Though worth it, higher education in America is an expensive investment. And when it comes to people of my socioeconomic status and lower, lots of money usually means lots of work.
At the moment, I am taking 15 credit hours, writing for this lovely paper for a nice scholarship, working on the side to save money, and doing an internship in Salt Lake in the hopes of bettering my future.
I don’t share this to fish for sympathy or in hopes that you’ll send me money (though if you do, please make all checks payable to Seanathan Reginald Beauregard Stoker III). In spite of all that, I live quite the charmed life, and I enjoy most parts of my busy schedule. But that doesn’t change the fact that I’m a busy man, and fitting all of that into my schedule and finding time for schoolwork can sometimes feel like my life-orange is being juiced all the way down to the soggy rind.
Like many in similar situations, I find myself in a bizarre catch-22. I can’t get rid of school because education is very important to me. I can’t get rid of the job because that’s what’s funding the whole school thing. Even though they both make the other more difficult to focus on, neither school nor work can continue on the trajectory I’ve mapped for myself without the other.
I’m coming at this from the point of view that I’m actually quite lucky. Even though my schedule overwhelms me, I know there are others in the world who are trying to do much more with much less, and I applaud them for it. But on a societal level, there has to be a better way of doing education. I’m not calling for communism; I’m not calling for free giveaways. But I am calling for solutions. Because if you just keep juicing and juicing, eventually you’ll run out of oranges.