By Aimee DeGroat, Staff Writer
Shuffling across campus from Statistics to English Lit, I thought about work and wondered if I had sent out that email. You know, the important work email that I had forgotten to send last night? The memory of this forgotten email had woken me up from a dead sleep at 1:00 a.m., and I had reminded myself to send it first thing this morning before class – before the big test. This morning, though, I had crammed for math while simultaneously cramming cheerios into my cheeks and I was pretty sure I had forgotten to send it yet again. I whipped out my phone to check, and as I glanced down I realized why my shoes kept sliding uncomfortably off my feet; I had on two different heels in two different heights; one blue, the other brown. Clearly the stress of trying to juggle work, school and life was getting to me.
My workmate is UMF Senior Barrett Wilson. You’ve probably seen him around campus – he seems to be involved in just about everything. Wilson looks like he is on a mission when he walks into a room. He ducks his head a little as he enters the door to work then takes long purposeful strides to his desk; every move he makes is efficient. His desk is neat and organized. Wilson works at our busy real estate office while maintaining a GPA of 3.7 and has even fit in extra classes so that he can graduate a year early. I wondered, am I the only one experiencing the struggle of being 100% present when there are so many things that require my attention?
Farmington Resident Meghan Hiltz tried taking a class at UMF last semester while also working a full time job and raising two kids. “I lost my mind trying to juggle everything,” she said. “I was working day and night… sometimes I was doing homework at work.” Hiltz ended up missing a lot of work for school, and although her employer was supportive, she experienced significant guilt because she felt like she was always neglecting something important.
I can relate, and as I asked other people for feedback on their work/school balance I found out that Hiltz and I are part of a large group of students experiencing the same stressors. “I’d rather be doing homework than working, and doing both doesn’t give me a lot of free time,” says UMF student Adam Hewins.
UMF Student Hillary Janelle agreed via email saying, “I am currently at work, and stressing about the homework I should be doing.”
In fact, a recent study from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce found that 70-80 percent of college students are also working and “over a third of young working learners work more than 30 hours per week.” What has changed over time, according to the study, is that “a generation ago, students commonly saved for tuition by working summer jobs but the cost of college now makes that impossible.”
In searching for assistance, I was directed to the Center for Student Development and spoke with Director Bob Pedersen, who was eager to help. “Career Services, located in the Center for Student Development in Franklin Hall, offers many different services to help students in dealing with stress” he said, “including offering a series of different workshops and classes.”
Pedersen said that “new students come in all the time” to see what Career Services can offer. Some of his suggestions to help get organized were to utilize the tutors in the Learning Commons in Mantor, as “they can help students learn time management and how to use a planner effectively.” Students can also visit the student Health Center to deal with stress management by learning about nutrition and exercise.
In addition to this helpful information, Pedersen suggested taking courses that are available to students to help learn to manage stress and better balance school and work. Some of the classes offered are Personal Development and Psych, which is offered every spring, and a two-credit Stress Management Health course that is offered every semester. That means not only can I get help in balancing my life and learning different strategies for dealing with stress, but I can get credit for it too!
I asked Wilson, who always looks so calm, if he ever gets stressed out about school or work. “It’s not hard scheduling out day-to-day tasks,” he said, “because I take 10 minutes out of each day to schedule what I need to accomplish.” He does acknowledge, however, that sometimes he feels overloaded. “With school I get stressed because of the workload I take on. My classes are at the point where I have to be serious in my studies,” he said. “But trying to be a young successful adult you have to be willing to put in the time and effort.”
Wilson couldn’t have said it better. Though it may get to us, the stress we all feel as students will be worth it in the end. And for the 70 to 80 percent of us who are trying to do it all, the Career Services and Center for Student Development is the best resource when feeling that extra stress, or for me, forgetting to send that last email before class.