Why Students Overwork Themselves

In today’s society, obtaining at least a bachelor's degree is almost a requirement to hold any job above the label of blue-collar. In addition to pursuing degrees, most students also occupy themselves by padding their resume with clubs, internships, and part or full-time jobs, all while trying to balance the requirements of college.

While trying to impress future employers, many college students are simulataneously working to pay their increasing tuition bills. The National Center for Education Statistics found that during the 2016–2017 academic year, annual current dollar prices for undergraduate tuition, fees, room, and board were estimated to be $17,237 at public institutions, $44,551 at private nonprofit institutions, and $25,431 at private for-profit institutions. According to The College of St. Scholastica “it's been reported that about 70 to 80 percent of college students are active in the labor market while enrolled in college. While some students work part-time jobs during college, many take on a larger workload. In fact, about 40 percent of undergraduates work at least 30 hours a week.”  A recent study of Utah college students, published by the Standard-Examiner, found that students who do not work all year have higher GPAs than those who do work year-round. The study was conducted by the Utah Data Research Center, where they examined academic performance from 2012-2016 of students at Utah’s public four-year colleges — Weber State, Utah State, Utah Valley University, Southern Utah University, Dixie State University, and the University of Utah.

The same study found that working year-round had a negative impact on students' GPA, retention, graduation, and number of credit hours taken for both the academic semester and school year, when compared to students who did not work. The article stated, “At the University of Utah, 43% of students worked year-round, close to the state’s average of 45%.” The study found that the University of Utah had the highest retention rates — 92% for non-working students and 86% for working students.

It's no wonder college students today feel overwhelmed by the rise of college tuition, work hours, extracurricular activities, clubs, and so forth just to impress potential employers or grad school. However, overworking oneself, especially in college, leads to potential health problems. A study conducted by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America found that 85 percent of “college students reported that they had felt overwhelmed by everything they had to do at some point in the past year.” Continuing overwhelming thoughts can negatively impact one’s ability to perform on a day to day basis. When there are a million things on your to-do list, there are a million things on your mind, and the mind of a student can be filled with reminders, homework, schedules, etc., leading to high levels of stress.

It has become the norm for students to exhaust themselves so they can achieve their goals and live up to society's expectations. However, it can feel impossible for every factor (rising costs, growing demands of entry-level applicants, and a more competitive job market) to be dealt with and fixed. It can be frustrating to navigate a busy college schedule while also balancing a social life and extracurriculars. Teachers and staff have noticed the issues students face and are taking small steps to ensure that students are not constantly stressed and overworked. It is important for students to communicate with their professors if they are struggling with the class, or if there are any personal issues interfering with their performance. It is also important students remember they are human and it is okay to breathe every once in a while and it is okay to let things go. An amazing resume is great, but one's mental, emotional, and physical health are what truly count in the end in order to perform all the amazing things the world will be patiently waiting to see.

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