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The Life of an Undergraduate

For most people, their undergraduate career starts at their late teens or early 20s, unless someone starts too early or too late. But who are these people actually? A typical answer would be students going to a four years college for a Bachelor’s degree, studying to have a bright career and a better future. That’s all? Does that suffice to understand who an undergraduate is? Let’s see.

An undergraduate is someone going to a college, pursuing a Bachelor’s degree upon completion of matriculation or graduating from high school. Someone who is expected by his/ her parents to be mature enough to take care of themselves, both practically and financially, someone who is assumed to know better about their duties of making sure they are studying properly and scoring right, someone who is supposed to be aware about their liabilities towards a better future, not just for themselves but also for their families. We are talking about young people here, leaving high school, expected by the society to start taking all their responsibilities at once. They are just too grown up to depend on their parents now. Well not all parents are the same and few help their kids out, few students manage to get scholarships with real struggle, or some are under grants and loans, but nevertheless, the pressure is always there. An undergraduate is supposed to be adult enough to know that no one is going to take his/ her responsibilities forever. It’s just a blunt transition to adulthood. 

So, what does an undergraduate do now? They start their working life, maybe as a part-time worker but a worker. Most even start working when they are in high school. At this point, there is an urge of making enough money to afford part of his/ her expenses if not totally, and to do good in studies as well.

Coming to studies, how hard is it to study in college? Do the curves always help you? Does visiting to those office hours always make you confident enough? Are those long lectures and bulk lecture slides enough to let you know and understand all that’s needed to get a good grade or even pass? Do those long hours of working on homework and assignments allow you to master your courses? The answer is certainly no.

One doesn’t always understand everything from the lectures, going to office hours doesn’t always provide more to understand than what was already provided in the lectures, the homework and assignments don’t let you master your courses no matter how long it took you to finish them, the curves don’t always help you pull up your grades.  None of these take into account that you are under a constant mental pressure, you are bound to spend a particular number of hours working, you must pay taxes, you didn’t sleep or probably didn’t even have the money to eat. Neither will it consider that you spend most of your time dreading how will you secure a better job after graduation, how bad the current job market is, how hard it is to secure a bright career, and what will you answer to your parents who will demand explanations after having paid for you all your life?

Yes, I am an undergraduate and I have those insecurities. Living on your own sounds exciting but it’s not fun as it sounds. I am an undergraduate and I am expected to pay mad tuitions and fees when I do not have a job and my parents expect me to start looking after my expenses. I am an undergraduate and I am expected to do good in my classes regardless the fact that I have already taken the practical life seriously and started working, I have started to be worried about my future and being depressed on the go. Yes! Yes, I am an undergraduate, and I am required to get through this process if I want a proper job yet a proper job is a far cry, considering the current job prospects.

Being an undergraduate in today’s date is not a joke. I am not the person you think is privileged enough to carry around fancy electronic devices even in classes, roaming around with friends and trying to learn few lessons. I am the person who often has nervous breakdowns under all these pressures, who continuously keeps questioning herself, questioning her abilities only to bluntly state that she is dumb. I am the person who worries too much about everything now, so much that she sometimes feels sick to her stomach. There are plenty who can’t even take it any longer and finds it better to end their lives themselves. There are many who turn to alcohol or smoking or drugs to just get their minds off those tensions. It’s a sinking feeling. You feel like you are going down and down that endless pit.

But hold on, is it just you? This is the best part now, you are not alone, we are all in this same boat. Don’t be sad because this phase will come to an end eventually. Don’t doubt yourself because you wouldn’t come this far if you are not able. Don’t be depressed for your situation thinking someone is doing better than you because someone else is on your shoes too or even worse. Don’t ruin your youth in alcohol and drug because you are a young person, you are the definition of liveliness, you are a bright and colorful interpretation of life. Don’t give up your life because there will be no better life if you don’t have a life. Nothing lasts forever my friend, and these bad times will pass.

Live your life. Love yourself. Pamper yourself. Struggle is probably a part of life now but don’t forget, it’s a part, it’s not your life. Don’t feel guilty for making yourself feel better. Don’t always ask yourself if it was right to attend that dinner instead of crouching somewhere in the library over your books. Don’t blame yourself for wanting that dessert at the restaurant or that watch at the mall because you were supposed to save money for your better future. You, my friend, is the car. If you don’t keep fueling yourself, you can’t go far.

Maybe there is no way of changing it right now, maybe that’s how the system is. But the struggle is real. I just wanted to say, never be upset on yourself or try to ruin yourself because the system and the society failed us. Let’s hold on to it, together. We still have a better shot than many underprivileged people. Let’s move forward together so that we can provide a better system to our future generations. We are the near future of this world and we will know what to improve only if we keep ourselves going until we reach there. 

Her Campus Stony Brook Founder and Campus Correspondent Stony Brook University Senior Minnesotan turned New Yorker English Major, Journalism Minor
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