As I was reading College Pressures, I was overwhelmed with how much I could relate to the college students William Zinsser wrote about. The letters in the beginning were all from distressed college students. I sound the same way when I call my mom saying I’m failing all my classes and that I’m never going to get into medical school. One person wrote, “All I can say is that I totally blew it this week. I’ve fallen incredibly, inconceivably behind” (380). I feel like that all the time. I tend to procrastinate on studying until a couple days before an exam. I then try and cram but I know I should have been studying a long time ago. I stress out very easily when it comes to school and my grades. I was not surprised when Zinsser said, “Nobody could doubt that the notes are real. In their urgency and their gallows humor they are authentic voices of a generation that is panicky to succeed” (381). We live in a society where there is so much emphasis on having a successful life and “one of the few things that America does not proclaim is the right to fail”(381). I could not agree more to the four pressures put on college students that includes “economic pressure, parental pressure, peer pressure and self-induced pressure” (381). Economic pressure for me includes everyday money for gas and food. I’ve been lucky enough for my parents to pay for all four years of undergrad. Medical school will be a different story and I will have to take out loans for that. Since my parents are paying for my college, I have pressure from them to do well. I don’t want them to waste their money on me. My dad is one of “many fathers [who] would rather put their money on courses that point toward a specific profession-courses that are pre-law, pre-medical, pre-business, or, as I sometimes heard it put, ‘pre-rich'”(Zinsser 383). Peer-pressure for me comes from my competitive classes like BIO 203 and BIO 204. Classes with curves makes everyone an enemy and your main goal is to make sure you do better than everyone else to guarantee your A. “Grade fever is highly contagious and not easily reversed” (384). This applies to all the over-achievers, suck ups and teacher pets. It bothers me that the only way to succeed in life is to be fake and be friends with professors only to do well in the class or only to get a good letter of recommendation. I think people should go to professors when they are actually seeking help or when they want to know more information about a topic because they are actually interested. I completely agree with the statement, “when every student thinks every other student is working harder and doing better, the only solution is to study harder still” (384). I’m one of those people that you will always find at the library. I have a lot of self-induced pressure to do well. I’m not a genius and therefore, I need to study a lot in order to do well. This semester, I’m finding it hard to balance my extracurricular activities, work and school. I’m taking twenty credits; most of which are science classes. I’m also a TA for organic chemistry which takes up a lot of my time. I’m the treasurer in my sorority and I work as a consultant in the library. I find myself giving up sleep in order to do everything and end up getting five hours of sleep a night. Everything I do is to try and stand out for medical school. I’m “trying to find an edge-the intangible something that will look better on paper if two students are about equal” (Zinsser 382). My parents are my main motivators and reassure me to keep on going because everything will work out in the end. The only thing is that I don’t know when this end is coming and it seems like its going to take forever.
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