Put yourself before your pet
I am no stone-hearted individual. I am just as easily swayed by fuzzy, cuddly animals with big glassy eyes as anyone else; but I am also of the opinion that having and maintaining a pet in college is one of the worst and most common mistakes college students make. Encouraging and taking on obligations of another living thing inhibits our time we dedicate to other career-launching activities, while also increasing stress and anxiety.
Most college students get animals because it helps them cope with the newfound loneliness/homesickness associated with moving into a new environment, but they typically do so without thinking of the consequences that have heavier repercussions for the animal in question.
Having an animal is more than just ensuring it’s fed and taken care of; you have to dedicate time, energy, and effort to the animal to verify it grows in an environment that fosters happiness and health. I’m a student with responsibilities and obligations, and having such prevents me from giving an animal the adequate time it deserves. Furthermore, animals make it difficult to rent off campus, and increases the hassle in moving once graduation rolls around.
In fact, once people graduate they tend to abandon their companions they’ve had for a couple of years and move on with their lives, while the animals remain in an abandoned existence, either struggling to survive, or wondering why their owners suddenly left them with no promise to return.
At this point in our lives students are still learning how to care for themselves and act independently. I know I’m still learning that lesson; there are days I forgot to feed myself! Forcing an animal to live in conditions in which it is at the whim of a college student’s forgetfulness, or it depends on a pseudo adult that isn’t capable of fending for themselves yet is completely unfair. Even more so, dogs and cats are animals that require a large amount of care, whereas animals such as fish, guinea pigs, or other smaller animals are much more low maintenance.
The long and short of it is, it is far better to ignore our ingrained tendency for instant gratification when it comes to animals and wait for the moment when we have reached true established adulthood that can guarantee an animal the life it so rightly deserves.
Animals place a heavy burden upon college students and exceeds the bounds of what is possible for a student to accomplish with a normal regimen of classes and extracurriculars. Better to wait and give an animal a satisfying, fulfilled existence, than to temporarily satisfy our inconvenient loneliness… or at least try keeping a fish alive first.