By Reyna Estrada
Many people are familiar with the hectic and often sleep deprived lifestyle that is associated with college students. These characteristics are attributed to students for good reason–the college years can be a busy and intense time during which young students begin to navigate the adult world, often times finding themselves face to face with new challenges and commitments.
Many students struggle to balance some of the many aspects of college life. Crystal Sandoval, a psychological extern at Roosevelt University’s Counseling Center said, “College years – it’s a very, very difficult time with trying to still find ourselves within our different identities that we might possess,” Sandoval said, noting it’s normal for some students to feel overwhelmed. “Also, learning to be independent and on your own at this point can be very overwhelming.”
In addition to this adjustment, many students take on new stressors such as some type of job or work experience. According to a 2013 Citi and Seventeen Magazine survey, nearly 80 percent of college students are working while attending school.
Work experience is a useful and often times necessary aspect of college life. Jennifer Wonderly, director of Career Development, said students should want some sort of experience in the workplace before graduating.
“You definitely want to have some type of work experience prior going out in the ‘real world’ after you get your degree because there are skills that you are going to be developing that employers are going to expect that you have, going into a position,” Wonderly said.
Roosevelt University offers many different opportunities for student employment that, in some ways, may be more advantageous than seeking work off campus.
“It’s also really important though to have academic field experience related to your major,” Wonderly said. “Most employers — about 75 percent of employers, surveyed by the National Association for College Employers, have responded that they expect their employees to be coming in having internship experience already.”
Wonderly said it may not be easy for all students to put academic prospects over finances. “We have a lot of students that are working jobs that help pay for tuition, help pay for family, to support family…and so to ask them to give that up to do an internship at that time can seem like a huge sacrifice,” Wonderly said. “But students need to also think about why they’re taking out student loans and making the sacrifice to begin with, is to have a job in the area that they are going to pursue. So if they are having issues with finding paid internships that are going to help them financially, then we would encourage them to come meet with a career counselor in our department.”
For some students, working full-time may even be a necessity, which can lead to aF neglection of self care. Sophomore psychology major, Bekah Nichols works two jobs while attending Roosevelt as a full-time student. “It is very stressful but it is also 100 percent necessary because the bills have to get paid somehow,” Nichols said. “So sometimes it can feel like I have too much going on, but also that I have no choice but to push the stress aside and keep moving. But for the most part I would say that my work life balance is fairly healthy.”
Nichols said students should plan their schedules ahead of time while also making sure they aren’t taking too much work on. “It is ok if you do not take every opportunity that comes your way and it is ok to make time to yourself,” Nichols said.
As a former academic advisor, Wonderly discusses the signs of overworking. “Missing class is a huge one, and sometimes they’re missing class due to work or just from oversleeping because they are physically exhausted,” said Wonderly. “My experience in academic advising is that when students go on academic probation, it’s usually not because of not having the academic ability, it’s usually due to time management issues and competing obligations.”
Whether it be a “semi-professional” on campus job, internship opportunity, or an off campus service or retail job, Wonderly warned full-time students against working more than 20-25 hours a week. “You don’t want to burn your candle at both ends,” Wonderly said, noting how important it is to have an outlet to relieve stress.
While attempting to maintain this healthy balance, many students may start to neglect their mental or physical health, which is a dangerous path to fall down. Sandoval says she urges everybody to make use of the counseling services that Roosevelt offers, to deal with stress and other related issues.
“You don’t have to be in a crisis to come in right away. Sometimes, we like to wait last minute to think we have to come seek help,” said Sandoval. “So as soon as you feel as something is not feeling right internally, emotionally or behaviorally, I think that’s an appropriate time to come in.”