Is University Worth the Stress?

Apologies for going MIA (missing in action) everyone! I’ve had a lot going on these last two weeks, such as juggling between catching up with lectures, tutorial work, a uni ball, a 21st birthday, dealing with a cold, and now nearing exams. It’s been one hell of a ride especially when every.damn.day flies by before your eyes, and you’re not very good at coping with piles of work, which then gets you super stressed!

One thing I wanted to talk about today was the worth of feeling stressed at university.

I’m currently in my third year and have never had doubts of entering uni to study what I study now, however, my stress tolerance has literally gone right through the roof! I remember reading this one blog post where the writer said how all the Facebook memes related to stress in university truly depicted the lives of many students; it wasn’t just some over-exaggeration. And all in all, I couldn’t agree more. Mental health (anxiety, depression, etc.) are all forms of negative states we feel, and exhibit as university students (though may not be applicable to everyone), and people don’t really think much about it. However, it was only until reading that post that made me realise how much more there was to life, than to go through a degree, and suffer X years of panic because you’ve just under-studied for an exam, or feel like absolute crap because you’ve failed an assessment you’ve tried so hard on, and then create this mindset of failure.

This might be completely off note, but there are jobs associated with stress that I wanted to bring to your attention (aside from university). So if you think about it, every job and occupation is stressful regardless. Hotel staff, and post offices will be at their wits end during the Christmas season, night-shift workers and truck drivers have to stay awake for long, strenuous hours which in turn can make them sleep-deprived, pilots have an obligation to fly passengers safely from destination A to B whilst battling harsh weather conditons, vloggers have this expectation to film every aspect of their daily life for fans otherwise their audience view might drop, some jobs require workers to meet deadlines and project goals, and not meeting them might place them under pressure. Essentially, stress is everywhere, and it is hard to avoid. However, the state of stress can be controlled if for example you are passionate about the job and it’s okay to feel overwhelmed at times, or find supportive ways to deal with it.

On another note, yes, university can be extrememy stressful (just like a job), and probably more stressful than everything you’ve had to deal with in life so far. But also remember this: there are support channels you can seek to help cope with stress. You’re not alone, and there are many of us who get stressed, but we just don’t classify ourselves as “stressed” because we fear that people are always quick to judge and say things like, “the course/degree you study isn’t even THAT hard compared to mine”, or “you have so much time on your hands so how can you be stressed?” Stress isn’t associated with how simple, or the difficulty of one’s course is, nor how much time we have on our hands. Also, the one thing I always tell my friends is that we all study completely different degrees, so you can’t just be cocky and propose that your degree is more academically difficult. We feel stressed (at university) because the workload can be so overwhelming at times, or or we fear that we won’t have enough time to hand up an assignment by the deadline, or finish an exam on time whilst providing adequate answers under time pressure.

BUT please, don’t put yourself in that stressful position if you don’t want to! You don’t have to, and you don’t need to. You’re not obliged by anyone else but yourself to enter university, whether coming out successful with First Class Honours, or nothing at all. You’re free to quit the option of university a week or even two years into it, you are free to limit your courses to two or three and leave the others for another semester to deal with, you are free to skip your 9am lectures and watch it online at your own leisure, and you are free to say “Hey, sorry university, but you’re just not for me”. 

Think of university as an ex-lover, you either loath it, like it, or love it. No, university isn’t for everyone, and I’ll admit that at times I felt that way as well. I have had friends tell me that I could possibly start up my own photography business if university wasn’t for me, or be an event planner because I’m a committed and organised when it comes to planning events with friends, or birthdays. And to be quite honest, I would be more than happy to be a photographer, or an event planner, however, Law and Commerce has always been my passion since I was young and that’s the approach I’ve decided to take.

Quite often, the raw truth is we all go to university for the reputation, social status, praises, and the high salaries that potentially come with a job, though that is of course not always the case. But what people don’t see is that their hobbies could one day become their careers – sports, modelling, cooking, advocating, singing, writing, etc. We all have potential career avenues we can choose to take in life, nevertheless, we all end up choosing university because we believe it will better us in the future, which is completely the wrong assumption to take on. Your degree is only worth as much as your ambition and passion, and to graduate with it, but don’t end up utilising it not only makes you look bad, but it also makes people wonder why the hell you would you have just wasted your money, time, and effort in a potential career you eventually scrapped. My advice for everyone who is commencing, or halfway through a degree, is that if university is too stressful, then do something which makes you happy, whether it makes you stressed or not. Because I know I would rather be stressed doing something that I loved, than be stressed doing something that I hated.

But if you’re like me, and love the content, but hate the workload, then stick with university as your hard work may pay off one day.

– itsjacey

[Photo credit: Tim Gouw]

Disclaimer: I have learnt Psychology in the past, but I am not in any way a qualified psychologist to give suitable advice. This is just my view, and no particular definition of stress was stated, but was rather based on experience.

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