My professor once said, “You are a student first,” and it was something so simple yet stuck out to me. I can’t stop thinking about it, and it made me realize that I am indeed a student first. I’ve been going through a mid-college crisis, so hearing my professor tell me that I’m a student first was exactly what I needed. This year, I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had time for my friends or even myself.
I feel so guilty when I have to send the “Shoot sorry, I was in class!” or “Awh man, I can’t. I have class” messages over and over again. It’s gotten to the point that I have to schedule in time to see friends, and sit down meals are a thing of the past. I find myself eating while I work or skipping meals to accommodate my schedule and staying up later and later to try and hang out with friends. I end up going to bed tired and waking up exhausted, waiting for another day of constant go, go, go. This is typical for a lot of college students, but this is also really rare for a lot of other college students. Because of this, I wanted to remind myself and others who are in the same boat why being a student first is important.
Wanting to balance school, work, clubs, and a social life can be an overwhelming task. I have full 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. days just about five days a week, leaving my nights for homework rather than for anything else. This year especially has been hard since I’ve been balancing multiple jobs, numerous clubs, and a full class load. With this kind of schedule, I’ve had little to no free time to hang out with friends, watch Netflix, or even just relax and take time for myself. Every day I struggle between wanting the “college experience” I see in TV shows and movies, and wanting the “college experience” that leads me to success and achieving my goals. It’s a daily battle with myself wondering if I’m spending too much time on one thing and not enough on another. I want to take naps in the middle of the day and stay up late watching movies with my friends; I want to go out and experience the fun college lifestyle but I’m in my pjs nose-deep in 16th century literature all night. I’ve been struggling with this all year—struggling with deciding between “fun college” or “successful, focused college.” I spent the year focused on school, work, and clubs, leaving the fun route behind me.
Now, this experience is a lot like other busy college students’, so I am not here to claim I’m the only busy one—that is not the point of this article! But it also isn’t the experience of a lot of other college students. And both are perfectly okay! There is no judgement on either side. It is just important to know yourself and know what you personally want out of your college experience. We are all growing up fast, and college is making us decide if we want to try and be forever young or if we want to grow up and start living like adults. College pulls you in so many directions and throws so many choices at you that it makes it hard to decide what kind of college experience we really do want. Being a student is exhausting; any college student can attest to that with ease. It does not matter what kind of college student you are, whether you are a traditional, non-traditional, two- or four-year, a student that is only a student, a student that works full-time and still goes to school—you name it, they are all hard. No matter what kind of student you are, though, just remember you are a student first.
It is so important to remember that we are all here for the same reason: an education that will furthur us into the world. Whether you’re in college for a year, four, or 10, we’re all in the same boat and we’re all paddling towards the same goals. We chose to go to college, and we are all hoping for a successful future and for all our hopes and dreams to come true. Having a good time is important to being successful and staying sane, but it is also not the reason most people choose to come to college. (No judgement if it is yours, but I came to college to get an education so I can do what I love every day.) I believe that the more successful I am in college, the more successful of a career I will have and the more doors of opportunity will be open for me post graduation. I have big hopes and dreams and if that means filling my plate with long club meetings, late nights up studying, extra work shifts I do not want to do, and going to class every day, then so be it. I am a student first. I chose to be a student and now I am choosing to be a student first.