An ever-increasing number of students in the United States are getting used to going without sleep. Not because of incessant partying and drinking, but because they are too busy working – not only at their studies, but on jobs as well.
Several decades ago only about a third of all college students held a job; today it is closer to a half of all full-time students and 80% of part-time students. Today a student juggling studies and jobs is not an exception – it is standard. It is what you are expected to do. Even if you don’t consider it to be necessary for you personally, chances are you will get under the influence of overwhelming culture of working students and try to follow suit.
At a glance, it is not all that bad. Getting a real job while still not tied up with a host of responsibilities that accompany adult life may serve as an excellent experience and prepare you for the challenges you are going to meet in future. Necessity is mother of invention, after all – when you are hard pressed for money, you get that much-needed edge and extra motivation.
However, while some work is excellent, too much work is, well, a bit too much. Normally students are supposed to work no more than 20 hours a week – it keeps them busy, provides extra money to pay their way through college and doesn’t interfere with their studies too much.
However, recent surveys show that an alarming percentage of students work much more, sometimes twice as much, more than 40 hours a week – and it cannot but have adverse effects on their academic results and, in the long run, their health. Just do the math – subtract these 40 hours from 168 hours contained in a week and see how much is left for studies, sleep and other physical necessities. A lot can be said in defense of enterprise and active approach to life, but if your college years leave you with health problems you will have to deal with for the rest of your life, it is hardly a worthy tradeoff.
But are there any reasons behind it, other than cultural ones? Of course, and the main one is the ever-growing student debt – vast majority of students have to take a loan to get through college, and it can potentially leave them indebted for years after graduation. Which means it is hardly surprising that they are ready to work hard to pay as much as possible independently, because they are not going to pay interest for what they pay right now.
However, much of this problem transpires from the fact that many students don’t bother to find out as much about their possibilities as possible. American student loan market is a free market, which means that there are a lot of possibilities – some are better, some are worse. And by spending additional time finding out more details about what you can do may save you thousands of dollars – and hundreds of hours of sleep.