Why Part-Time School Sucks

Because of a very overwhelming Fall Semester, I decided to take a small break this Winter Semester. I have a 2-semester course, so I couldn't full-on drop school, but I knew I needed to lighten the workload. I am currently enrolled in only 2 classes; one is Mon/Wed and the other is Tues/Thurs, so I am still at school as frequently as I used to be, just not for as long.

 

Here is what I expected from limiting my workload:

  • reduced anxiety, particularly revolving around school-related issues

  • more hours from my retail job to save for the next school year

  • less procrastination

  • increased fitness

  • more time to relax and do things that would benefit my mental health (e.g. meditation, reading, yoga, etc.)

 

Now, let's evaluate what has actually happened:

 

1.) Just as much anxiety

To put this in perspective, I have generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). I suffered a lot especially towards the end of the Fall Semester. I attributed the increased anxiety to my workload, which is one of the reasons why I became a part-time student. Now, for all who might be in the same situation as me and might have GAD, your anxiety will not go away. Sure, I'm not constantly stressing about upcoming midterms and essays (only one of my classes has assessments like that) – and that does help overall. But if you have GAD, or any form of mental illness, the somewhat Negative-Nelly fact of the matter is this: it will not go away. You have it for life. And though you can do things to reduce it like I did, you will still have other factors in your life that will cause you to feel anxious. You'll learn how your anxiety works and you can figure out your triggers which is really good, but I shouldn't have expected such a dramatic drop in my anxiety just by lessening my workload. Now I stress about catching up in school, if my program suits me, if I want to be in university at all, among many other things – of course.

2.) Still just as broke

If you work retail, too, then you know the struggle of the post-Christmas hours. After the grandeur of the holidays and the excitement of New Years, people don't have as much of an excuse to shop anymore. When the customers start saving money, stores (and consequently retail workers) don't make as much. Taking all that into consideration, I've also had more time to go out clubbing and to go to different shows and other shenanigans – all of which cost money. Seeing as I don't have to worry about spending a full day at school, I don't have to worry about showing up with minimal sleep. The up-all-night and sleep-part-of-the-day habits is not only horrible for my health (mental and physical), but also my bank account.

3.) I still put off work...

… and the procrastinator that I am is only encouraged further because of the lessened workload. Psh, I can read a book in a day. I can write an essay in an hour. I can do anything, because there's not much else to worry about – or so I convince myself. The fact is this: if you are naturally a procrastinator, then you will always find something else to do before doing what you must do. Whether it be Netflix, coffee dates, or pub shows, there is a world of things you would rather be doing than your schoolwork.

 

4.) I guess I'm more fit?

If there's anything positive that I've gained from this part-time experience, it's that I have more hours in a day to go to the gym. Although I don't spend more time cooking healthier food or packing lunches, at least my friend can convince me to make a trip to the Forge a few times a week. And I love it! Being fit is great for anybody with mental illness particularly because of the positive endorphins. So, I suppose it's one small victory in the scheme of things.

5.) I laze around a lot – but not in a good way

As I've mentioned before, I've been going out a lot this semester – so much so that I was way too excited to spend a few hours of the evening at my own house before falling asleep in my own bed. (It was great and my cat really appreciated it, for the record.) The time I spend 'relaxing' is really just me not being able to do much else after endless late nights. I don't spend time meditating or reading, either. I go zombie-mode and flicker through the internet (which is bad because the screen light increases cortisol, which increases anxiety), looking through social media rather than doing anything productive and mindful. When I expected relaxing, I expected something that would make me more present in the world. What I've ended up doing is losing myself more and more to the late nights and the minimal sleep.

If you are thinking about part-time school, all I can suggest is that you really focus on what you are prioritizing by limiting your schoolwork. I started off the year with a clear idea of what I wanted, but I let life take over and lost control a little bit. It is still a learning experience, and I await the full-time Fall Semester rather excitedly. However, it was not at all as productive as I had hoped it to be. Learn from my mistakes, HC readers, and manage your time well – whether in school or not!