Under Pressure

woops posted this on the wrong blog!

Reading Zinsser’s essay “College Pressures” was really eye opening. It made me realize how competitive, future obsessed and ultimately, pathetic, our youth has become. We strive for perfection in order to get what we so “desperately desire” but often times I wonder, like Zinsser, if these preplanned careers are even what some students truly yearn for.

            In response to the four kinds of pressures Zinsser addressed, I can certainly relate to three of them. Unlike a majority of students, I can proudly say that I have never been subjected to any “parental pressure” at any point in my educational career. Ever since I was a child, my mother only expected me to just simply, “try my best” and if I did so than that was just as good as getting an A in her book. I never really felt obligated to prove myself to my family, anything I did just made my mother proud.

            Unfortunately I can relate almost too well with the other three pressures Zinsser mentioned. For me it seems almost as if all three pressures, economic, peer and self induced, seem to be tightly intertwined suffocating me against my will. I try not to let the stress get to me, but it seems merely impossible not to think about it on a daily basis. I feel pressure from peers to compete against them – whether it be academics or extracurricular. I feel economic pressure from the cost of being a commuter student and financially responsible for myself. And lastly, I feel self-induced pressure from the guilt of spending too much time focusing on my future and not enough time with family.

Here’s a relatively simple example of how all three pressures influence my thoughts – say there’s an event occurring on campus (such as a volunteering opportunity of some sort) that others claim would “look good” for Dental, Medical, Graduate School, Etc. and it would be important for you to go (Peer Pressure). However, you commute an hour to school – and have to work to pay for expenses that a lot of other students are lucky enough to have their parents help them with (Economic Pressures). You can’t afford to take off from work, especially last minute – and choosing to attend an event if you have free time – is essentially less time creating memories with family (essentially my mother) and who knows how many memories you have left with the people you love? (Self induced pressure) This vicious cycle seems almost inevitable to fall in as a college student. Especially those, such as myself, who truly want to accomplish their career goals (mine in becoming a Dentist). From Dental, Medical and graduate school pressures – we are all forced, to some extent to feel pressured. In order to get our “dream jobs” we must unfortunately follow what is expected of us – but often times as Zinsser noted, this is not merely enough anymore. It’s sad that this is the reality we have to face as college students, and unfortunately, I do not see this changing any time soon.

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One Response to Under Pressure

  1. Stephanie,
    You post is very articulate, and I think that a lot of people can relate to what you’re saying! Similar to you, I have not had parental pressure to be the best academically. I have always been told that if I do my best and just pass my classes, that was enough for my family. Because I never felt this pressure at home, feeling pressure at school and form peers was quite a transition for me. I like how you talk about your experience as a commuter student, and it is an interesting perspective to have. It is so easy for resident students to use being tired or other excuses as reasons to not attend events, but commuter students have so much more difficult because there is the problem of distance and time. Students have to juggle academic and extracurricular activities with both work obligations and family duties. There is barely enough time for just one of these responsibilities, so juggling all three of them seems to be an insurmountable task. As Zinsser said, students don’t even have time for themselves midst all of these obligations and pressure to be perfect. But relaxing every once in a while as Zinnser suggests is easier said than done. I know time management is key for getting everything done, but at some point is there a limit to how much you can do? Do you think time management is enough to let students fulfill all these duties, or is it simply un-doable for even the most organized person?

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