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How college students balance classes, employment

Megan Looper

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A modern-day college student’s schedule: wake up in a rush for an 8 a.m. class, run across campus to make it to the next class on time, go straight to that part-time minimum wage job until closing hour and rush to grab a coffee on the way home to ensure you can stay awake for the several hours of vital studying.

The question is: how and why do we do it, and most importantly, what does it take to keep us sane during our hectic routines?

“I work solely because I need a source of income to support myself,” freshman Rachael Schremmer said. “As an incoming freshman, I am now on my own and must provide for my everyday needs.”

Cramming everything into a typical day while juggling work and class has physiologically been proven to cause increased amounts of stress in young adults.

More than 50 percent of full-time college students have been employed in recent years, according to the American Association of University Professors. Faculty from this organization concluded that students enrolled full-time should work between 10 and 15 hours a week. Anymore would interfere with the quality of their education.

This is definitely not the case as students advocate for more working hours due to the seemingly never-ending increase in tuition costs.

A study conducted at Yale University in 2012 recorded that chronic stress can reduce brain volume and kill brain cells. A smaller, less functional brain volume can lead to impaired cognition and decreased emotional function.

According to New York University, stress is reported to be the No. 1 impediment to academic performance.

So what will we do to maintain the grades needed to receive a diploma while making a living?

From a student standpoint, there are many effective ways to manage stress levels.

“When I find myself freaking out about everything I have going on, I sit down, take a deep breath, and make a list of specific things I need to accomplish that day,” Schremmer said. “It helps me stay organized and feel more prepared to get started.”

Other tips include trying to sleep as much as possible, eating healthy, staying positive and doing things you love in the amount of free time you have.

“Sometimes I just sit down for five minutes and do nothing but enjoy a couple pieces of chocolate,” Schremmer said. “Being on the go all the time, it’s nice to get my head on straight and just relax.”

Having to work while attending school is not the ideal life, but one that is unavoidable. It is up to us to make the most of it.

“I might not be able to go out with my friends every time I want to, but that’s okay,” Schremmer said. “College is all about time management and choosing what is important. My priority is to get a degree, so sometimes my social life unfortunately has to suffer.”

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