You stay awake all night to study, forgo social activities and your grades have become the number one thing on your priorities list. Some might consider you to be the epitome of a proactive student. Others may try to encourage your “dedication.” I, on the other hand, would caution you to stop. College is an incredibly hectic, stressful time. There’s no getting around that. The problem is how we are choosing to deal with it. We have become so accustomed to the chaos we have to come see the behaviors above as normal. In reality, it’s far from normal. At what point do you go from being a productive student, to putting your well-being at risk? This fine line that is often crossed by college whose priorities have been skewed due to the pressures of college life. It seems like more and more people are putting their mental, social and physical health on the back-burner in order to make a few points higher on a test. We need to start realizing that no grade is worth throwing our basic human needs out the window.
One of the first things college students sacrifice in times of stress is sleep. As much as everyone would love to get in a full eight hours of sleep at night, sometimes this seems like an impossible goal to achieve. College students are all too familiar with staying up through the night just to get that last bit of studying in before a big exam. Problems arise when the occasional late night evolves into a continuous string of caffeine-fueled all-nighters. For many people this is even considered to be normal. This is a very disturbing pattern among college students. Depriving your body of sleep can be detrimental to your physical, emotional and psychological health. Students need to start prioritizing sleep over cramming for a test. It’s something your body needs to restore itself. Also, the motives behind these all-nighters are completely counterintuitive. There is actually a link between lack of sleep and for academic performance. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, students who frequently pull “all-nighters” tend to have lower GPA’s than students who get between six and eight hours of sleep. This just proves when you don’t put your health first, all aspects of your life will falter.
Balancing school and a social life is another difficult thing to manage during college. Many think of socializing as a frivolous activity. It’s treated as if it’s something that can easily be done away with to make room for a few hours of extra studying. People tend to forget a healthy social life is critical for living a meaningful life. The Mayo Clinic states having a life rich in social activity can reduce stress levels, help individuals cope with trauma, and can even strengthen your immune system. We oftentimes forget how impactful social interactions are for our health. Aside from the numerous health benefits, there is a much deeper reason we should be more concerned with our social health. When we begin to isolate ourselves from family and friends, we are neglecting the most important things in in life. No grade will ever be worth the price of neglecting the ones you love. These are the things that make life worth living. Make it a priority to find time in your schedule to see your friends, call your parents and stay connected to the people you care about.
With exams, extra-curricular activities and job-searching, stress is bound to find its way into your life. This is just part of the college experience. In some cases, this can even benefit you. An article put out by the Berkley News recognizes acute stress as a way to keep the mind alert and boosts performance. The key word in this statement; however, is the word “acute.” This means that it is experienced in small quantities. Chronic high levels of stress can lead to fatigue, lack of concentration and, if severe enough, physical exhaustion. When we are only focused on our grades, stress levels can shoot through the roof. It’s important to realize that there is a difference between being concerned with academic performance, and being obsessed with it. When even the thought of al less-than-perfect grade brings you to the brink of a panic attack, there is a problem. Thinking about grades should not have a crippling effect on the body. At this point you aren’t concerned with learning, you’re concerned about a letter. Yes, grades are very important. They aren’t, however; worth making yourself go crazy. As hard as it may be to believe, your grades do not define who you are or who you will become. College is supposed to be a time when you find out about yourself and he world around you. Make sure you are exploring this side of the college experience, as well.
In closing, college life isn’t the cake-walk many people believe it is. There is constant pressure to succeed in everything we do. As tempting as it may be to let our health and well-being fall at the waist side for school, we need to fight against it. There is so much more to life than making a certain grade. We need to prioritize our health and well-being above anything else. This is the only way to live a happy life.