College: The Worst Job You’ll Ever Have

Can I put “had three mental breakdowns over the course of 72 hours” on my resume?


Photo Illustration by Leni Santos/SAC.Media.

People always have something to complain about when it comes to work. Whether it’s about not getting paid enough, not getting enough hours, being overworked, having terrible coworkers or having an even worse boss, people feel the need to have a crying contest over who actually has the worst life. However, plenty of them can all agree on at least one thing: college fucking sucks.

I’ve talked to plenty of people who are knee-deep in work, and whenever they ask about what school is like, they always say the same thing: “Glad I don’t have to do that anymore.” It’s as if they escaped from jail, when all I’ve talked about is being up for 72 hours straight because one assignment is due here, an essay is due there and I have a test in the morning. It’s not unusual to skip a meal or two or three when your GPA is on the line.

There’s nothing wrong about having three mental breakdowns in a single week because you can’t keep up. Sure, it won’t last forever, and one day you might get out with an acceptable degree, not a whole lot of student debt and find an OK job that has some kind of loose connection to the major you’ve studied for two or four years. For now, though, going to college just might be the worst possible job you can ever choose to take.

Tons of people are willing to debate all day and night about their paycheck. It’s not enough to pay the bills. The minimum wage needs to be higher or lower. Everyone wants a raise because they deserve it.

As most people should know, though, going to college doesn’t pay. In fact, you pay — thousands. According to the National Center of Education Statistics, college students paid $23,091 on average in the 2017-2018 school year.

If you’re smart, you’ll apply for FAFSA to help pay that. However, the moment you submit that form, the price of having to pay off a student loan will begin crawling up your back. So, even after you escape college, you’ll still be paying them. You’ll still be taking chunks out of your measly paycheck to burn the thousands of dollars you’ve spent learning about how to write rhetorical essays and every little thing you need to know about the Pythagorean theorem.

What’s more is that if you plan to pursue a master’s degree, you could be paying off over 200% more. If you want to go even further and grab a doctorate, prepare to pay off a debt somewhere in the six-digit range.

Then, if you want to talk about hours, most college students have worked the graveyard shift at one point or another. According to the University Health Center at the University of Georgia, college students get an average of “6 – 6.9 hours of sleep per night, and the college years are notoriously sleep-deprived due to an overload of activities.”

All-nighters are a common solution to scraping through that four-page research essay or studying for that big test. So, those eight hours of sleep that we’re meant to have get thrown out the window. In their place, we take naps and grab an endless amount of coffee cups. Occasionally, enough procrastination could mean not sleeping at all. You never clock out of your shift as you go from printing out your essay to forcing your eyes open on the road, praying that you don’t crash because your professor doesn’t accept late work.

That’s not the only crash that college students are concerned about, though. If you work in the food industry, maybe you get benefits such as discounts on meals or even free meals on your lunch breaks. In addition to getting no sleep and having to pay for things we don’t really need, tons of college students skip meals. Even for those with jobs, many students look to food banks, free snacks offered at events or unhealthy amounts of cheap fast food.

In Berkeley, “a university-conducted 2012 survey of undergraduates [found that] 23% reported that they skipped meals to save money at least somewhat often. And 5% did it very often.” What’s the reason behind finding so many different ways to completely demolish your health while going to school?

Well, you get to save money so you can pay for other things you need in school such as books and test supplies. Who needs anything more than instant ramen when you also have to pay for rent or room and board? Who has time for anything more than an overpriced candy bar or bag of chips from the vending machine when you have an essay due in a couple hours?

Going to college is a job you’re supposed to take up because it’s good for your future. With that hope, though, you sacrifice what you have in the present. It’s even become a running joke among this generation of college students that it doesn’t matter what your degree is, you’ll be working at a shitty job that has nothing to do with it anyway.

So, what’s the point of going through college hoping for a better life, when the way you live through the time you use to raise your GPA is also chipping away at it? What’s the point of trying to find a sense of accomplishment in the work you put out, when there’s little to no reward given back? What’s the point in trading hours of sleep, necessary meals and your mental health for a piece of paper that just points out: “I’ve had to kill myself to get a future.”