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13 October, 2015

A Letter From Your College Student

Today in my university library I saw someone sprawled across a chair in a corpse-like fashion, sound asleep. Absolutely exhausted. Unable to read another word of his textbook. This isn't new and it isn't surprising. Seeing this poor guy so vulnerable after putting his entire mental and physical capacity into studying made me a little sick to my stomach. Is this the new normal?

To be clear, I actually did see a guy sleeping in the library, but what I saw represents a much larger phenomenon I witness every single day. I see it in the eyes of those around me, I feel it in the air and in the attitudes of those I pass. Rarely do we college students get the chance to admire what is happening around us because we are always so preoccupied with our rigid schedules and constant workloads. And I know what some of you are thinking: this is only a taste of the "real world" waiting for us all when we graduate. If you are one of the people thinking that, I encourage you to save those comments and never mention them to a college student. I can assure you 99% of us are MORE than aware of what the future could hold if we don't try hard while we're in college, hence why we push our minds and bodies to the brink day after day (cue the guy sleeping in the library). I speak on behalf of my college classmates because I have observed their actions long enough to know that we are all in this battle together, regardless of what our individual stories are. 

On the subject of college classmates, the way we all communicate is exactly what older generations LOVE to criticize (so annoying, by the way). Eye contact is rarely made because we are glued to our phones. No, we are not only scrolling through Instagram (which, by the way is very lucrative). While we are all social media mavens, some of us are also depending on our phones for our jobs. Answering emails, making deals and communicating with key people are just a few of the things we do on our phones each day.

In lieu of the wonderfully convenient technology at our disposal, there isn't much noise on campuses these days. This trend is all thanks to the thin white cords seen dangling from the ears of almost every college student, blasting their favorite music or maybe nothing at all. Putting in headphones and listening to music is no longer just for enjoyment because now headphones are the number one accessory that says "I DON'T WANT TO TALK." Note: these white headphones are best paired with a solid gaze at ones iPhone.

Now, don't believe for a moment that all we do is look at our phones and listen to our music. Those are mere habits to numb the senses as we blitz from class to class, sitting through long lectures and listening to professors bark out loads of work that is due by the end of the week. I can't tell you how many weary, tired expressions I see as I navigate through thousands of over-worked, under appreciated students on their way to their next commitment.

That's another thing, commitment. College life is chock full of commitments. Are you in a relationship? What are you doing this weekend? Are you involved on campus? Can you work this weekend? How many internships have you had? These questions seem to be permanently flowing through the minds of college students. Even those of us who are confident in our answers to those questions get so tired of answering them all the time. It's a balancing act and we are learning as we go.

So the next time you ask a college student how everything is going and their response is "good" just know that there is a lot more going on in their lives but that they are being kind enough to spare you the details. We all realize how fortunate we are to be in a position to receive a top-notch education and learn from the brightest minds, don't ever think we take it for granted. It's just a learning process on top of another learning process and we're all doing the very best we can to make it work.

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