There have been a few key words that I have been described as in the past year: "overachiever," "hardworking," and "Type A." As I began my (sort-of) freshman year at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, I was coming fresh off of studying full time at my community college and working full time as a manager in fast food throughout the summer. Finally free from AP classes and extracurricular activities, I was determined to spend my three month break wisely: I took classes at my community college and saved as much money as possible so I wouldn't fall under the trap of textbooks and supplies during first semester. I spent at least 232 hours during my summer vacation working and going to school--of course, you're probably wondering: why would anyone want to spend that much time not relaxing during summer break? The answer, of course, is money.
The cost of college, on average, increases about 6% to 9% every academic year. So, if your yearly tuition costs $20,000 this year, it's more than likely going to increase somewhere between $21,200 and $21,800 next year. If you, like me, attend a private school that (before scholarships, grants, aid, etc) costs you close to $45,000 a year, there's a good chance it'll be closer to $48,000 next year. So, in order to dodge high inflation rates, I've decided to make an enormous effort to graduate a year early and to get a head-start on my Master's degree. This means, evidently, that I will spend my breaks working and going to school for the next five years. The phrase, "I'll sleep when I'm dead," comes to mind.
Since the beginning of first semester, I've picked up a second job at school and took an extra class during the winter session to make sure I'll have enough electives to graduate on time in spring of 2018. Next semester, in the spring, I'll be taking 18 credit hours. I also plan to work as much as possible. I am firm believer in the idea of shaping your own destiny--if you want to come out with a relatively small amount of loans, work at diminishing your costs as much as humanly possible. And, on a more personal, irritating note: it bothers me when people complain about the huge amount of debt they're incurring while they just sit and don't at least try to bring the costs down. But, that's an essay (argument) for a different time.
Taking on the 'full-time' lifestyle as an eighteen-year-old college student seems to be unexpected to adults; especially concerning the stereotypical laziness that Millennials embody. The norm for the average college student, apparently, is to *maybe* get a part-time job, *maybe* take a class in the summer, and *maybe* try to graduate earlier than expected. From my point of view, this slow-moving attitude can create internal anxiety that essentially disallows the student from "adulting" successfully after graduation. It perpetrates the idea that college is a bubble, and that real life and responsibilities back home stop moving when you're on campus. Of course, for freshmen that moved to a completely new city and new life, this argument is slightly faulty: if you barely know where you are, it is perfectly sound to adjust to your surroundings; however, if you're able to expand, push yourself, and make money...do it.
The consistent downfall of constantly working and studying? Days off become few and far between, especially if they're not filled with going somewhere and doing something. If you're like me, and follow a similar regiment, plan a day (or two, if you're lucky) each week where you can relax, watch Netflix, shop, or party. Plan a weekend to go visit your loved ones--family, friends, or significant other. Set time in your schedule to relax, because if you don't take a second to breathe, you'll crash. Trust me. It took me until recently, after countless times of unconsciously falling asleep at friends' or at my boyfriend's house, to realize that I need to give myself time to breathe. I am coming out of denying myself breaks because I viewed them as 'unimportant' and 'unnecessary,' simply because I wasn't making money. You need to stop, take a moment, and breathe.
Remember that it is okay to relax every once and a while, and to cherish the presence of that relaxation as valuable. As the saying (sorta) goes, "time is money, but money isn't everything." But challenging yourself by working and taking extra classes enables you to grow, enhance your work ethic, and build time management skills that are so important to develop after graduation and beyond.
Lead Image Credit: NBC