College Teeter Totter: Mantaining Balances

College Teeter Totter: Mantaining Balances

Photo Courtesy of Public Domain Pictures

College Life

A general expectation of college students is to dedicate a minimum of three hours PER credit for each course. This takes into consideration that a typical course load generally requires about nine hours of dedicated study time. For students receiving financial aid help, it is often required to take more than three courses (depending on the school), which constitutes a full-time student status. This doesn’t mean that in all cases full-time students are taking the minimum course requirement. On the contrary, many students on financial aid or not, take four or five courses, in order to graduate “on time”. For these students, the expected study time is about 36 hours. This is all manageable when school is student’s only responsibility, however, many students also take on part-time jobs, attend actual class meetings and be young, wild and free. One can see how this might create a quite the balancing act.

 Circumstances leading to stress

What then happens with students who work a full time job or two? The students who also have children to care for? What happens to self care? Family time? The occasional nights out?

My family always expects me to put aside time for them, going out, parties and so on. If I have an assignment or exam due then I’m expected to hurry, get it done and accommodate to THEIR expectations.

This doesn’t take into account those students who study  or complete their work at obscure hours.

Apart from trying to pave time for school work, some professors don’t allow ANY absences, regardless of the reason. What’s even more ironic, is the idea of professors knowing what students get like during the progression of the semester. There will be at least one professor during your college career that highlights this fact after the halfway mark. They notice a decline in productivity, in effort, and their students’ attitudes.

Most students may live off caffeine, tobacco products, or alcohol as an attempt to survive the stress.

Life problems outside of school also affect school work and dedication.

If you don’t have time to relax or do things besides school and work it does affect your mental health. It can physically affect your body and cause you to feel or get sick more often, as well.

Long-term consequences

For the students who have no breaks, there may be constant stress. Long-term stress can lead to both mental and physical health problems. If mental health problems are already present, it makes studying and completing assignments more difficult.

I struggle with major depression and anxiety. It makes it difficult to concentrate in class and complete school work. I’m lucky enough to be able to function daily most of the time. Many students aren’t so lucky. They fall behind, miss class, have to work and can’t focus on themselves. One important thing to consider as a student is self-care.

Probable solutions

Stress and anxiety reliefs could be yoga or meditation. If those aren’t for you, try taking a bubble bath, reading a good book, enjoying a nature walk or going out for coffee. Allowing yourself the opportunity to breathe can help relieve any stress.

Stress should never be an excuse to get drunk and party every weekend.  If there are assignments due and you’ve procrastinated, those should be the priority. Family may expect you to attend a party or get together, but if you have a term-paper due or exam the next day, you need to prioritize. There has to be a balance between school and self.

Mental health is of utmost importance. If you feel yourself slipping into a funk and feel you need help, talk to someone. There are professionals on many campuses or even professors can be understanding if you explain. Sometimes talking to friends or family can also help.

Talking to family and friends can prove to be difficult during student life. Just because you don’t attend one family get together or go out one night doesn’t make you a bad person. You know what you want to accomplish, you know your goals and you’re trying to achieve them.

No sleep, stacked assignments, student and personal expectations don’t mean you have to go crazy.

However, if you’re ever overwhelmed to the point you need to seek help there are resources out there:

The National Suicide Hotline if you feel at risk 1-800-273-8255 or call 911

School Counseling centers located within a college/university

Maintaining a balance is easier said than done, but it is possible.

Remember self-care is important;, remember to prioritize, and remember student life.


About Lesly Guzman

Current college student at NEIU in Chicago, Illinois, future psychologist that serves the world. Self proclaimed Xicana and also feminist (an oh so controversial topic in today's world). I am majoring in psychology with a minor in child advocacy studies and plan to work with minority adolescents and children. Topics of importance to me range from inner city violence (present in Chicago), the importance of funding education (or lack of in my institution's case), to issues of identity, what it means to be a first generation college student, religion and culture, along with the utter most important topic of mental health. I challenge myself in my learning, in my views, and hope I may do the same in a positive manner for those I reach. I plan to help change the world one day, even if it takes a lifetime.