Eden-Rose Baker is an opinion columnist for Mustang News and journalism junior. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Mustang News.
I have never felt less motivated for the first day of school than I was this year. The fact that I have been sitting in a classroom, studying, taking notes and doing homework for the past fifteen years hit me hard, and I realized the harsh truth: I don’t want to do it anymore.
Usually during week one I am a hardworking student, and I prepare a homework routine to carry myself through the quarter. This quarter, I went out with my friends every night, and the mounting pressure of assignments hardly phased me.
I thought that this was a post-summer slump that would only last a week, but instead, it lasted the entire quarter. Every morning when my alarm rang, I pressed snooze at least twice. At this point, I know that if I miss class, the world won’t end, so going feels optional.
If only that were true, though, missing class impacts my grade, my GPA and my potential to apply to grad schools. The fact of the matter is, though, that I am burnt out from having the same routine for so long. So, staying home, taking care of myself and ditching that routine feels essential.
This switched from self-care to an issue when questioning whether or not going to class is worth it and counting down the minutes to a class being over, became part of my routine.
The third year of college is a transitional year where internships, on top of keeping up with studies, become a focal point. This pressure forces students to focus both on school and vocation, which reduces the amount of efficient work a person can produce because their brain is lacking the capacity to perform both skills successfully.
Internships are also highly competitive, which makes the idea that students need to get one even more stressful. Since internships typically have more applicants than spots, this forces students to produce as much work as possible while competing with their peers. This is anxiety-producing because it impacts both a person’s social and vocational lives.
Social media and movies have also created this perception of college involving everyone going out and partying all the time.
My friend and I were having a conversation this summer about how after two years of peer pressure, a lot of us are just feeling drained. Going out and socializing is no longer fun and exciting because it feels forced.
The one thing about school and the culture surrounding it is that since you are in it for so long, it becomes a huge part of your identity. Once going out and being a student became a struggle, I felt lost. I do not know who I am or what I can achieve outside of being a student.
Losing interest in what I know is forcing me to figure out who I am aside from being a student or trying to fit into social castes. Figuring out who I am has been uncomfortable because I have lost connections that no longer feel right and have lost interest in activities I usually enjoy. Growing bored with what I know is forcing me to figure out what is truly best for me, and it is scary, exhilarating and lonely.
Some people are also beginning to think about and apply to grad schools. There is pressure to get a master’s or Ph.D. to get higher-paying jobs and climb up the corporate ladder. I was told to go to grad school straight out of undergrad rather than taking time off because most people who take time off don’t go back.
If I am already burnt out trying to crawl my way to the end of the road for undergrad, I don’t think continuing this routine and not taking time for myself would be beneficial.
Aside from what I am experiencing, other people are feeling the pressure, now that we are halfway done, to do as much as possible because there is only so much time left. College is often portrayed as the “best years of your life,” and students feel the need to live up to that.
“I feel like this is the last year for me to have fun,” environmental management and protection junior Tess Whitsett said. “Next year is when things get serious where I have to think about where I’m living or what I’m doing after graduation.”
This pressure to make college the best years of your life, on top of establishing a career, forces people to be doing something all the time. After two years of this pressure, I am burnt out and feel a constant need to rest.
Another factor that adds to this burnout is juniors feeling the need to catch up socially after their freshman year being online and needing to utilize sophomore year to adjust to college life.
“I can always retake a class, but I can’t get back that time when I get to build relationships,” business junior Zack Van Blarcom said. “When your first year and a half is all online, finally getting the chance to build relationships seems more important.”
The third year of college represents a lot of change and pressure. It is important to remember to be gentle with yourself as you figure everything out and to realize that you are not alone in your feelings.