Discourse / Editorials / January 28, 2010

Thoughts from the Embers: Stress mess

According to the Associated Press, stress among college students is at an all-time high. This is not surprising, as students have not only their grades to worry about, but a faltering economy to graduate into.

At Knox, the high expectations placed upon academic excellence, emphasis placed upon extra curricular activities and the rigorous trimester schedule leaves little room for unexpected stressors. But they come up anyway.

We students may start off on the right track each trimester, but then our roommate has a crisis and needs our support. Or perhaps our significant other breaks up with us and we can’t shake that rejection. Maybe our club is going on a really neat trip or there’s a conference at another college that takes a whole weekend away from us. Then one of our family members becomes ill and we need to divide our time again.

Before we know it, we’re up until four in the morning trying to deal with our personal lives and our class work and the sleep deprivation kicks in. Then we are too tired to participate in class or any help to our clubs.

All this is part of the college experience. We learn how to manage our time, balance personal lives with our classes and extra activities and how to take care of ourselves responsibly. The problem is expectations at Knox leave little room for error.

For many students, course work and academics become the most important part of our lives. Indeed, we are paying a great sum to be taught here by some of the best professors around. We feel immense pressure to complete our assignments to the best of our ability and often put our course work first, even when another valuable life experience might come up.

Should we, as students, have to choose between finishing our essay and comforting our best friend when they’ve had their heart broken? When it comes down to cooking a meal or finishing reading a last chapter for class, should our decision be that hard? Why should we have to choose between sleeping and relaxing with our friends because the other activities demanded upon us take up well over the 16 hours of non-sleeping time we get in a day?

Knox demands that we students be well-rounded. But, what is the most important part of our experience here? For those students who are driven to always complete their work, it seems that academics would take the cake. This isn’t always a good thing. Some of us are better suited to the nontraditional educational experiences Knox has to offer and yet they are still tied up with the rigorous course work.

How then can they have the freedom to flourish?

Tim Kassar has suggested that the graduation requirement for credits be lowered. He argues this would allow professors to focus more on their own research and projects. Students, however, may also benefit if they value the nontraditional experiences at Knox or would just like a light term to de-stress once in a while.

While this might help some, others could just waste their extra time. But then, is having more time to talk with our friends in the Gizmo, join other organizations we are interested in, or taking some extra time to experience life outside of Knox really wasting time?

TKS Staff

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