College students should do work that matters to them

College students should do work that matters to them

It can be alarmingly easy to become so caught up in pursuing straight As, a strong resume and that perfect Linkedin profile that we become overstressed robots monotonously clawing our way through college without really noticing, let alone enjoying, what we’re doing. There is certainly merit to working hard and to prioritizing your academic and career goals, and nobody is supposed to enjoy every single minute of their college experience. But where do we draw the line between a healthy work ethic and working ourselves to the point of extreme stress and exhaustion?

Of course, your GPA, resume, and LinkedIn connections do matter. To get into that graduate program, medical or law school, or to get your dream job, it certainly helps if you’re accomplished on paper. Your future is important, and it makes sense that students want to work hard to give themselves the best possible shot at future success that they can have. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t push ourselves to be high-achievers. I’m saying that sometimes, we get so caught up in our grades and how many leadership roles we have in clubs that we forget to breathe. Take a look at your resume. Look at the things that you’ve done over the last few years. How many of those things did you actually enjoy? How many of the clubs that you’ve been involved in actually reflect your beliefs, your interests, or your values? Could you replace a club you’re in just for the sake of building up your resume with something you truly enjoy, even if it might not impress potential employers quite as much? So many students find themselves buried in work and responsibilities that they don’t particularly care about, and while it’s normal not to love every assignment you’re tasked with, it’s worth taking a step back and evaluating whether or not you find yourself doing things that matter to you, or doing things that will enable you to one day do things that matter to you.

Whether you’re a freshman just beginning your college experience or you’re approaching the end of your undergraduate experience, it’s not too late to evaluate your involvement at the University of Alabama, as well as what you do with your time when you’re not working or studying. Many students find the academic and extracurricular work that they do to be fulfilling, which is great. But sometimes we find ourselves doing the things that we think we should do because our friends are doing them, or our parents told us to, or because it’s what everyone else seems to be doing. By all means, work hard and do everything you can to ensure a bright future for yourself. Sacrifice going out or taking a nap so that you can study for a test or get an assignment done. But don’t find yourself abandoning the things that make you happy because you don’t have the time, or because they don’t look good on a resume. 

Obviously, if it were easy to find a balance between pursuing fulfilling activities and prioritizing our obligations, we’d all be amazing, balanced students. However, just being more aware of what we devote our valuable time to can help us determine how close we are to finding that balance. Getting straight A’s and being highly involved at school is great. But if you can, take a minute to make sure that those A’s and that involvement will mean something to you when all is said and done.

Cassie Kuhn is a sophomore majoring in math and political science. Her column runs biweekly. 

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