Inside The Life Of A Part-Time College Student

Being a part-time college student is no joke. Picture this, it’s a Thursday morning, you’re all cozied up in your bed, finally getting the rest you’ve been dreaming of all week. Then suddenly you get the horror of a reminder that there isn’t any time for you to get your beauty rest- you have class today! This is the life of a college student who is boldly and simultaneously facing the adult world. It’s not easy. Having to juggle schedules, working overtime to make sure bills are paid, cramming study sessions in, having very little room for social life, and always ending your day with being exhausted. Just for that cycle to continue. 

It’s a luxury and a privilege to not have to worry about extra expenses while being in school.

When you live on campus, so much is encompassed in those fees. Your lodging, your general meals are all taken care of. Being in school, while working part-time has been a challenge that no one truly preps you for. It isn’t given the proper space for a dialogue around it. It’s just like mental health for college students, the stress of starting to figure out adulthood is dismissed as a rite of passage for all young people. It’s “something that everyone has to go through,” so it’s not worth holding a discussion for it.

Colleges and jobs don’t make this process easy for us as well.

There’s very little room for grace, very little understanding of one’s circumstances, we’re expected to be superhuman. Send this in on time, never be late to work, never be late to class, completely understand the curriculum, always give 100% effort at work, the expectations never end. 

Our mental and physical health is never something that’s prioritized by these institutions.

You’re lucky to come across a handful of teachers and bosses who want to make sure you’re not overworking yourself. Superiors who will give you time off if you’re not feeling well. But the majority wouldn’t care if you’re coming to class or work on your deathbed. The room to mess up is set very low, if you miss 3 classes, you’re dropped from it completely. Come to work late x amount of times – you’re having a talk with your supervisor.

When you’re working and going to school it leaves little room for other responsibilities. These range from scheduling doctor appointments, to setting up therapy. Your boss won’t understand you needing to come in late so you can talk to your therapist. If your job doesn’t offer paid sick days you’re risking losing money. So you’re left with the option of putting your health on the backburner so that you’re able to get that check, and degree. 

Capitalism runs off of the lack of societal acknowledgment that this is not a proper way to live. When everyone just forces themselves to be okay with working a 30 hour plus work week. You’re running back and forth between different classes, monetizing your hobbies to pick up extra money where your job doesn’t.

We normalize this behavior.

We chastise those who bravely call out these unhealthy patterns, label them lazy.  Brush off someone wanting to vent about the issues they’re drowning in because “we’re all going through something”. So many people think that just because they suffered, it’s necessary for everyone to overcome those similar hurdles for their own growth. Instead of working on ways to make this process easier, to remove these blockages, the world makes it mandatory to go through. 

Rest is necessary for every human.

When you have a schedule that encompasses every day of your week being occupied with something, your body becomes consumed with a feeling so much dread. When you’re working a 9-5 on x amount of days out of the week, then going to class immediately after, you’re left with no time to engage in something that gives you joy.

I’m an artist.

I find comfort in painting, writing a poem, making jewelry, etc. As of late, because of my cramped schedule I’m getting less and less time to work on things that ground and center me. My art that I do for leisure, has also become a source of income to help cover bills. So now there’s a sense of hassle that comes along with something I originally do to avoid stress. This is something far too many students can relate with, and it shouldn’t be a cycle that’s allowed to continue.

Colleges should learn to be more understanding of those who are working part time jobs to support themselves.

Offer more support groups, more tutoring services that are catered to part time working hours, more grace given to students. Our places of employment need to stop relying on the exploitation of young students who will work ridiculous hours just to get by. We as a society need to take a harder look at the system, and ways we can combat the capitalistic tactics that keep us in this unhealthy cycle. Being a part time student juggling two jobs, and other extracurricular activities has pushed me to advocate more for ways to make this way of life easier, and not normalize it for the students who are coming up after me. 

Alycia Kamil is a freedom fighter and believer of the people. She is a Freshman at Wilbur Wright College.

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