Undergraduates: The Balancing Act

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By: Codi-Lane Jones

When I first entered McPherson College, I felt very confident in my time management skills. In high school, I graduated with a 4.5 GPA, and still played sports along with a job of about 20 hours a week, and I slept at least eight hours a night. As I began the transition into my college classes, I realized how much harder things were about to get. My freshman year I did not have a job because I lived in the dorms, but because I wanted to live in a home with my significant other, that changed going into my sophomore year. Currently, I go to class full-time, am a part of the cheer squad, and work a job of 20-30 hours a week. I currently have a 3.0 GPA, and only sleep about four to six hours.

Undergraduate students are expected to complete all of their assignments, do well on tests, and show up to class every day. Unfortunately, this is not an easy task by any means for a student who must also attend to other obligations. Students are expected to set aside roughly five hours outside of class on study and work for every class they take each week; a full-time student will take about 4-6 classes a semester. With using simple math, a student will be expected to set aside 20-30 hours outside of class on school work or study. That is a part-time job, now, add in 20-30 hours of a job and roughly 6-10 hours for practice for student athletes off season, and roughly 10-20 hours devoted to the sport in season.

The result of trying to manage this tight schedule is negative. Author David DeSteno wrote, “Research Conducted by American College Health Association shows that almost 54 percent of students report feeling high levels of stress, 60 percent report feeling exhausted and overwhelmed at times. Anxiety and depression levels are also on the rise, and as documented in The Chronicle, are taking a toll on students’ well-being.” These statistics are on the rise due to rapidly increasing college tuition, increasing cost of living, and stagnant wages along with other factors. Undergraduate students in our great grandparent’s generation could afford to pay for college by working a full-time job during the summer. Now, parents must start saving for their children from birth and still will have to pull out a loan or two. This is detrimental for people of lower to middle class status because some parents may not even be able to save for their children; it is very common for cost of college to be put solely on the student. This results in massive student debt. Millennials have the highest number of student debt than previous generations.

Some may argue that none of these reasons are a significant reason time-management is a problem with our generation. It is argued that social media, technology, or laziness is to blame for our struggle in making college work. While all of these can be true, DeSteno makes a point that someone who is proud of what they are doing will devote more time and effort into that certain skill. Going to college is something most who attend are proud of doing and being a part of. This is our future.

Undergraduate students are the most misunderstood with time management due to excess responsibility. This excess responsibility causes mental health deterioration. Tuition fees rising, housing cost rising, stagnant wages, and expectation of professors are the main issues we face today.