Don’t feel pressured to rush through college

Why do we tend to tell ourselves it is better to rush through college and get started in our careers and lives? Do we not realize what’s waiting for us when we are done with school?

Here’s a quick breakdown, if you’ve forgotten what being a full-time adult versus full-time student is like.

When you are a full-time adult, odds are you will start out working 8 hours a day. You’ll probably show up at 8 a.m., get an hour for lunch and head home at 5 p.m. 

Some of you might be thinking, “Okay, that doesn’t sound too bad.” 

If you’ve ever worked 8-5 for at least a month, where your only days off are Saturday and Sunday, you quickly know that this isn’t the most fun work schedule to have. At the end of the day, you might want to go right to bed. But, you have dishes to wash, clothes to launder and a house to pick up. 

No more college also means you have to start paying off student loan payments, living off campus for those who opted for the dorms for their college career and learning how to juggle all of those adult payments we have dreaded for years. As soon as we get that diploma, these responsibilities become our reality.

I don’t really know where this pressure to get done with college fast and start our lives comes from. Part of it probably comes from high school counselors putting us on a four-year path after getting our high school diplomas. Maybe it also comes from the fact that many of us are ready to move out of our college town and explore opportunities elsewhere, or maybe it’s the idea that the longer we are in college, the harder it will be to get a career started since we will be older.

Guess what? Whether you get your degree in three years or eight, full-time adulting is still waiting for you after commencement. After all, commencement does mean “the start.”

Enjoy your time as a college student, as you only get to be young once. If you need to take a lighter class load and tack on another semester, that’s okay.

I’m like a lot of college students that look at school as a race. I was prepped to get done in three and a half years, get my degree and get out in the workforce.

Then I worked an 8-5 job for three months, I realized I’m going to pump the breaks a little and extend my college career to not burn myself out in an effort to get done early. I never thought I would be one to take a break from school, but I’m going to be taking a year off to pursue a job I’ve dreamt of for years. I’ll come back and have earned my degree in five years, and I’m happy with that decision.

Some people thrive under pushing themselves to get their degree in record-breaking time, and I applaud them for that. Others have to set a limit for their time in college due to scholarships or other financial restrictions, and I understand that too. But, for myself, I’m happy that I will be taking a little extra time and giving myself a little longer to be a college kid, one that still has a ridiculous schedule of staying up late and waking up early, napping between classes and juggling school with a personal life. Maybe taking a break would re-spark the motivation for you to get done with college. I’ve seen people make it to their second semester of their final year of schooling, then drop out because they are burnt out. You don’t want that to be the result of years of student loans and all-nighters, do you?

What we see as a nuisance now, we will look back upon as a blessing and hopefully not take for granted the time we have in college. 

Now, don’t take this as me saying to slack off in college, take as few credits as possible and jack around until you get your degree. That’s far from my point. Still push yourself and work towards graduation, maintain good grades and get involved in extracurriculars. But, don’t overwhelm yourself with more hours than you can handle just to say you got done on time or even ahead of schedule. What matters is that you get done, no matter how long it takes you to get there.

This advice is for the students who are in a rut and feel stuck here in Chadron, the ones who are looking for an out. If you need a break from college, take that break; come back and finish your degree when you feel motivated and ready to tackle your degree. It’s better to finish when have that motivation and drive to get good grades rather than let your grades slip because you “don’t care anymore” and are just trying to pass classes. You don’t need straight A’s to get a degree.

Don’t be afraid to take a break, because adulting is in the near future. Get your degree in a time frame that is manageable for you, not a time frame that was established when we were still in high school. 

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