Sunday, July 27, 2014

REASON 10: The Stress Will Kill You

Does he look happy to you?

Even if they don't realize it, the number one reason students enroll in college is because they want to avoid stress. The goal is to get that degree, enter the real world, and enjoy a decent salary, a rewarding career, and generally pleasant life.

While that's the goal, it is a goal that most college students will never achieve.

Many colleges and universities have slick marketing campaigns with shiny brochures featuring students strolling along idyllic campuses, looking as if they have no cares in the world. Or they might show you the picture of the broad-grinned college graduate in cap and gown who looks like he can't wait to take on this world with his diploma in hand. You can't help but get excited for him, imagining all the places his global marketing degree will take him.

Don't fall for this trap! During your college careers, you will spend less time playing frisbee golf on the quad and more time hunting for limited parking before your 8 AM Lit class, arguing with the financial aid office over your paltry student aid package, scrubbing down tables in the campus cafeteria for 20-hours a week in a futile attempt to take out less loans, and writing a check to Campus Parking after they ticket you for going two minutes over your time at the parking meter. And at some point during this routine, you will have the privilege of sitting in the back of a 100+ student lecture hall, frantically trying to type out the inaudible ramblings of an underpaid adjunct professor (See Reason 4). Sounds relaxing, doesn't it?

But what about life after graduation? That's where students are supposed to reap the rewards of their long years of sacrifice, right? Think again. Job uncertainty overshadows the joyous occasion of graduation for most college graduates. And the lucky few who have jobs lined up? Let's just say that figuring out how to pay off $400+ in student loan payments on a Starbucks salary can put a dampen on one's enthusiasm for life. But what about those who got a "real" degree? Working 40+ hours a day at a lifeless job to meet unrealistic and never ending timelines while seeing your paycheck garnished by taxes to pay the welfare benefits that are going to your liberal arts classmates is probably not what you had in mind when chose your engineering degree.

College is just the beginning of a vicious feedback loop that exposes you to stressful situation after stressful situation. First its the midterms, the finals, and the bills. Then its the job applications, the student loan payments, the living expenses. After most graduates learn that their bachelor's degrees are virtually worthless in the job market, they opt for graduate school, which is similar to the stress of college - but on steroids.

But isn't stress an inevitability of life? Perhaps for you it is. But if your main motivation for going to college is to sacrifice now in hopes of the good life down the road, be warned, the road is long, winding, and eventually leads to the edge of a 1000-foot cliff. The fact that so many people flock to college to eventually attain a life that lacks artificially imposed stressors suggests that there is something desirable about this goal. Why pretend you deserve anything less than the carefree life you dream of? If you believe that your life is more than deadlines, bills, and 50-page capstone projects, you should seek this path at any cost and stay far away from college.

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