The Tired Footsteps of a Student Worker by Sean Donovan
Imagine that you are driving back home from a long day of classes. You enjoy your classes, but a four-hour-long lecture can drain anyone of their energy no matter how engaging it was. The last thing you would want to do is make dinner for yourself after an intellectually taxing day. On your way home, you stop at a McDonald’s restaurant. You drive through and someone else makes your meal for you, along with the meals of other tired people of the good city ofCleveland. Those people who may have contributed to a moment of rest for you may also have been students, working in order to pay for tuition, school supplies, or every day bills.
Tri-C student Josh Eastlake is one of those students. Eastlake gave me an example of his typical work day. “I work at a gas station takeout kitchen. GetGo. It’s kind of like a Sheetz. I make food and drinks all day for people, make cookies, bake bread, fry and sauce chicken, clean fryers, clean ovens, stock snacks, scrub floors, and be a cashier when needed.”
Eastlake’s hours at work conclude later in the night, usually getting him home after midnight.“There’s a good amount of nights where I literally have to choose between having a mental breakdown trying to force myself to get work done, or just going to sleep to keep my sanity,” says Eastlake. “My family worries about me often to be honest. It’s a high amount of stress at all times. I already have a pretty severe anxiety disorder and living by myself in isolation certainly doesn’t help.”
Students have a special opportunity for income that the rest of the world doesn’t have, however. The power of scholarship money and financial aid can be all the difference in whether or not a student can afford to finish their degree, or even begin their higher learning at all.Luckily, Eastlake has the support of his mother, who helped him in the search for scholarships.Though some scholarships are simple to find and apply for, many of them require a good bit of attention. Eastlake mentioned his mother’s help was vital to his finding substantial funds this way. “I couldn’t imagine having to figure it out and get it all done completely independently,”Eastlake pondered, “which is as ad reality for a lot of students.”
A college student is expected to study for approximately two hours outside of class per credit hour. With 12 credit hours (the minimum amount of credit hours for a full-time student), that is 24 hours of studying and homework. Including the time spent in class, that is 36 hours a week spent on academics. A part-time job ambiguously means anything less than the full 40 hours.Even assuming that part time means only 16 hours a week, that is a total of 52 hours spent on school and work per week.
This equation, even when including the time spent sleeping, does leave a few hours open in the student worker’s schedule. Eastlake sometimes has the chance to enjoy downtime in small moments. Even when time is carved out for mental wellness and occasional relaxation, however, guilt plays a large role in the student mind. “I often can begin to feel stressed at the thought that I’m being self-indulgent or hedonistic when I could be more productive.” He explained.
Expectations on all sides of the equation are at an all-time high as well, according to Eastlake.“If every teacher asks me to complete “only 1 or 2 things” a day, that’s 6-12 I have to do when I get home from work at midnight.” Eastlake confessed. “My boss is always asking if I can come in more often, do more, and look happy while doing it. All of this with very little sleep and poor diet is a mentally deadly concoction. I truly get tired of being so tired.”