Students are drowning in excessive work

It’s no secret that being a student is hard job. Even though taking classes is meant to be in preparation for the “real world,” college can often be even more stressful and difficult than a “real job,” not to mention the financial challenges. It’s not easy to function well and be alert when there’s uncertainty about what the next meal will be, or how books will be paid for. Sadly, the increasingly more common solution that students are taking on is to get a job on top of all the classes – sometimes even two – which adds to the stress even more, and makes it all that more difficult to succeed in classes.
What, then, is the solution? The truth is that one person can only do so much, and the immense pressure to finish college as soon as possible is harmful to those who have more limited resources. Classes are expensive, and people who do not have adequate savings or income cannot be expected to work twice as hard and endure twice the stress. Some people can handle it, and are absolutely extraordinary for having the drive and endurance it takes to do so, but I think the idea that those people must be forced to go at the same pace is flawed.
There are many ways to get a quality education, at many paces, and fitting many lifestyles – but there is a strong push for young students to hurry up and get their degree as fast as possible. The mindset of education needs to change with changing times – not everyone can afford traditional college now, and the expectations need to reflect that.
College doesn’t have to be a full-load of classes and full-time work hours. It can be a mix of the two – but students should not be forced to do both. It is an option, of course, and those who choose to do it are admirable and hardworking in every sense of the word. The point that I think is never acknowledged openly is that not everyone can do both things at once. Not everyone has the capacity to work full-time and take classes full-time – it just puts so much pressure on a person, and I don’t understand why I don’t hear anyone saying, “it’s okay to take it at your own pace.”
I think the Bellevue community is specifically hard on its students. Bellevue College has a strong student voice and accepting community, but it is not immune to the unusually intense pressure put on students in this city. A lot of this can be attributed to the affluence of the community, but when it comes down to it, there is no strict timeline to achieving any ultimate goal. Someone can still achieve high standards without following the same path as most of the people around them.
There is a lack of understanding and acceptance for those in the City of Bellevue who do not fit in to the typical timeline of education in the area. Not only is it OK to take college at a part-time pace, but even delaying college to save up money is perfectly fine. Success has no single definition.
There is no shame in having a different energy level than another person, or to be able to handle less stress than another person. Expectations are thrown upon students each and every day, and often times they’re just not reasonable. We are not superhuman, and nor should we be expected to be. Everyone’s “best” is different, and there is nothing wrong with that.
The cultural belief that one must outwork and outperform everyone else is a source of drive and motivation, but no one philosophy works for every person, and not all people are the same. So many people around me stress constantly about not getting a certain class soon enough, not getting into their preferred university at the right semester, and it’s as if the world will implode if a goal is missed. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s important to set goals and hold oneself accountable. It’s just OK for every individual’s goals to be different.
Success is not defined by how soon it comes, or how soon others achieve it. Success is different to every person, and is achieved differently by every person. Now that higher education is so much more demanding than it was 30 years ago, the college and university culture needs to adapt to the needs and abilities of students now, and be accepting of the fact that every life and every path is unique, and does not fit a universal four-year plan.

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