With increased pressure from institutions of higher education on students to be the “perfect” candidate, over-extension is becoming a rite of passage for undergraduates, and graduates, alike. Medical schools, for instance, require perfect grades, amazing MCAT scores, and documentation of shadowing opportunities, volunteer experience, and extracurricular activities (all adding up to thousands of hours of work throughout your undergraduate years).
It is becoming so difficult to obtain a seat in a graduate program that admission entrance statistics are reaching as low as 0-1%, depending on the field concentration. Is it any wonder that Generation Y is known for its addiction to Adderall and anxiety meds?
Have no fear, help is here. While building a strong resume and performing well on standardized exit exams is important, we college students have forgotten our true reason for attending these institutions: obtaining a degree. Yes, these programs require more than phenomenal grades for acceptance, but if we lose sight of our academic standings in order to stand out in our experience, we have already forgotten why we are here. So, what can be done to cure the crunch-time panic attacks?
Open up your crammed planner and start knocking off unnecessary stress. That extra shift at the volunteer office is a great ambition, but if it means you don’t sleep, it is probably not the healthiest choice for your academic career, not to mention your physical health.
JUST SAY NO
If your plate is already full and toppling over, don’t add stress to your life by accepting another responsibility. It’s hard when you want to help out, or make some extra money, but it’s not always worth the chest pains and tension headaches.
As a self-sufficient student, it is extremely difficult to cut back on hours at work; however, when schoolwork is piling up, it can be more than necessary. Cut back on your expenditures, so you can cut back on the hours. Plan meals at home, rather than going to restaurants. Rent a movie instead of going to the theater. Find free events on campus to attend on the weekends, rather than spending money on community events. College kids love free stuff, and college campuses strive to provide it.
If you are unable to cut back on time commitments, make sure you plan your schedule down to the minute, and avoid deviating. It is extremely difficult to do, but it can be done. Time management is key when you have over-extended yourself.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Type A personalities have a difficult time with this one. You are born leaders, and we get it. But, asking for help or spreading out the work load does not mean you are incapable. In fact, it is quite the opposite. It shows that you are confident enough to recognize that letting other people help can be an asset, rather than a hinderance.
Essentially, learning your limits is a major part of the college experience. It is extremely difficult to decide where your so-called “loyalties” lie, and even more difficult to cut back on the aspects of collegiate life that you enjoy. Trust me, we have ALL been where you are. In fact, many, myself included, have hit this point a few times along the way. However, keep in mind that this is the time in your life when it’s okay for it to be ALL ABOUT YOU!