University is supposed to be the best four years of your life; although the same has been said about high school. University has caused me more breakdowns than I care to admit. Trying to balance school, a social life, friendships, work, volunteering, and the other daily tasks one is supposed to do, has made my life feel impossible at times.
I have always tried to be the best version of myself that I can be, but school has made that very difficult. I have neglected my own health in order to get a better grade. When my friends are in need, I will drop everything to help them. I have abandoned papers in order to help friends through a crisis, and then be stressed to the point of no return at 4 in the morning, trying to finish the aforementioned paper. Even when I do try to sneak in four hours worth of sleep, I find my body incapable of doing so. My mind wanders to the seven other tasks I need to do before their deadlines, which are all conveniently set up with a 24-hour time span of each other.
My friends will roll their eyes and ask me how I’m sick again. The truth is, I can feel my body start to shut down the moment I recover from one illness. I basically have flu-like symptoms all year long and have a constant headache I just can’t shake. I know it’s primarily from stress, and then I stress out more because I’m constantly exhausted and not finding the energy I desperately need to finish an assignment.
If school has ever made you feel like the least intelligent person on the planet, you are not alone. I have classes with finals worth 50% of my grade, and the finals themselves are all multiple choice questions. There are people who guess at the answers and score higher than me, even though I basically lived in the library preparing for the test. See, marks don’t truly represent how much you know about a topic, some people can memorize information and then forget about it after a test, whereas once I understand something, it’s stuck with me. Wouldn’t you rather have a doctor who knows how to do a heart transplant even when they haven’t done one in months, than one who has to quickly memorize the steps required to do your surgery right before you go under the anesthesia? Unfortunately, the latter is likely to be the one to be admitted into med school, since their grades are higher, all because they could guess B enough times to be right.
Schools constantly say that there are resources available for your mental health, yet fail to support you when you reach out. If you are one hour outside of the cutoff for exam accommodations, you don’t get any. It’s as though the school thinks that extra 60 minutes you have in between exams is enough for you to destress from the one you just wrote, have time to eat, maybe use the bathroom if you have time, and not pass out.
What I hate the most about the education system is how it puts people down. Most of the friends I receive FaceTime calls from are crying from the stress or grades they deserve but aren’t being awarded. Having set grade distributions for each year is ridiculous. If someone clearly wrote a paper deserving of an 80, why should their mark take a hit so the class average isn’t so high? It’s nearly impossible to get 90’s anymore because schools are getting more competitive by the year, that a 75 is actually written as “excellent work” on the course syllabus.
University can have its perks, it’s not all bad. I just hate how people are believing that they are their marks. Your marks do not reflect your intelligence, loyalty, friendliness, empathy, honesty, or your life. Honestly, networking can have a huge influence in where you end up, please don’t get so consumed in your academic achievements that you forget how to actually interact with others. It may seem like that one grade made it so you can’t get into grad school, but there are always options. You can reapply, take the course again, take a semester off, change programs and go into something you enjoy, or talk to your professor to see how you can improve. Don’t think that the only achievements in life are academic.