You’re a Senior. What Did You Expect?

Indiana Melendez

Indiana Melendez

As a senior at Southwestern, I thought I had the whole college time-management thing down to a key. Wake up, go to classes, get a few hours in at work, do homework, study, hit the gym, go to bed, and do it all over again in the morning.

This seemed to work for the first three years of undergraduate studies. But the system I came up with freshman year seems to be failing me now that I’m engrossed in upper-division courses and at least 25 hours at work. The class and workload I now have seems more unbearable than dragging overloaded luggage up the Egyptian pyramids.

But what can I expect, right? This is my senior year of college! I shouldn’t expect any mercy. I shouldn’t expect professors to lessen the length or even the frequency of assignments, not to mention the complexity of them. Anyone who dared to try would get the usual, “Well… you’re not in high school anymore, kiddo,” a paradox in itself that identifies our expected maturity as childish or naïve.

It’s not to say that anyone should really have pity on us all who stress through the demands of college life. I mean, most of us know what we get ourselves into when we first register for classes. But my question is: it possible for the average college student to completely immerse him or herself into the subject matter their courses present, while still juggling work, classes, exercise, studies, sleep, and a social life? From my own experience, I find it extremely hard to believe that it is.

Contrary to what this rant may suggest, I actually love all of my classes. As a communication student with an interest in marketing and design, I have found my upper-division courses extremely interesting and stimulating. I would honestly read my marketing and advertising textbooks just for the fun of it, if I actually had time to do so. Instead, the only readings I manage to get through are the quick skims through paragraphs before completing chapter quizzes online. The struggles of concurrent deadlines, infinite amounts of papers, reports, and essays from different classes, and the need for work, meals, and sleep have put a toll on my actual desire to learn.

When professors assign and explain projects, I can sense their excitement. I imagine them creating the syllabus with a smile, as they plan out fun, practical exercises that enhance our knowledge, understanding, and ability to come up with solutions for real-world problems and solutions. I’m always just as excited until I look down at my planner and realize the time-crunch between the assigned and due dates. “If only I had the time to actually give this assignment my all,” I think to myself. Unfortunately, most of the assignments I turn in are mediocre efforts to meet deadlines and make the grade. Otherwise, they are much labored attempts to stay awake during the wee hours of the night in order to actually finish with some pizazz. I assume other students feel the same.

I don’t know if there is any real solution to this dilemma many of us students face. An option might be to cut hours at work. But then again, we need the funds to actually stay in school. We could drop out of extracurricular activities, honors programs, or community involvement, but isn’t that what most employers look for in their prospective hires?

We may never really solve the problem between the desire to learn and the actual ability to do so. The reality of the matter is that the world around us demands too much. Exploring our passions to expand our knowledge and minds just isn’t as doable as it once was. There just aren’t enough hours in the days. If only we could experience the true purpose of education and its one desire to expand the mind.

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1 Comment

  1. Darcy
    October 01, 14:19 Reply
    Well said Indiana! I can relate and I'm 10+ years out of college. As I'm thinking about the demands on my schedule and my attempts to balance my professional life with my personal, today, I can't help but think I should've learned more in college. And I'm not necessarily talking text book stuff. Instead, I feel that I should've been paying closer attention on how to manage my time, say no when I need to, and really figure out what my priorities in life are. The pressure to excel in all areas of life doesn't lessen. In fact, I see myself as way more stressed now then I ever was in college even though I feel my memories resonate with your descriptions - but maybe those memories fade in time. Maybe the stress hasn't changed and I'm just still trying to learn the same lessons. Or perhaps it's not so much college life as it is just life and the impractical deadlines and pressures we put on ourselves. Technology is a wonderful thing but it has also helped create a society that wants instant results. We want results in our lives and others expect the same from us- which means somewhere along the line we're both insisting on it from someone else and having the same demanded from us. You'll be light-years ahead of me if you start seeking ways to break that cycle now and look for a healthier balance.

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