Are College Students Stretching Themselves Too Thin?

By Ashley Hathaway, Contributing Writer

Many of us grew up with the idea that being involved in every way possible holds the formula to success. In high school, we were consistently told that being involved in clubs and activities would boost our college applications to the top of the stack, so we became involved. I remember countless numbers of my peers rushing to join clubs such as student council, leadership programs and academic clubs in order to push themselves to the top. At McKendree, there is a similar trend. Students are highly involved in academics, athletics as well as a plethora of clubs across campus. Many students also have off campus jobs or internships that hold importance for future careers. While being involved in campus activities is beneficial in various ways, is there a time when all of the tasks at hand become too much to handle?

Collin Smith, who graduated in May from McKendree with a degree in computer science, believes that students do sometimes stretch themselves too thin. As a former athlete on the men’s bowling team and a member of the Student Athletic Advisory Committee, Collin can attest to the busy life of a student-athlete.

“Being a student-athlete can be stressful at times, especially if you want to succeed at doing both. This means you have to put in the adequate amount of time and effort to be successful.”

Collin bowling with his teammates in the background

At McKendree, more than half of students are athletes. This requires good time management skills in order to keep up with school work, practices and tournaments.

“Time management is key to keeping a healthy mind, especially while being a student athlete,” Collin said.

On top of being a student-athlete, there can also be pressure to get an internship to start building a career. Shayli Florine, a senior at McKendree University, is on the women’s basketball team and also is a Guest Services Intern at the Enterprise Center in St. Louis.

“As a sport management major, I definitely feel pressure to be involved in a lot so that I have a lot of experience to offer to employers.”

Shayli at her internship

While Shayli takes pride in the activities that she is involved in, she admits that she sometimes wishes to have more free time. Likewise, Shayli mentioned that her friends find themselves stressed over the lack of free time they have. Even if students do not believe that they have time to join multiple clubs or organizations, many do so anyway with the hope that it will continue to build their resume. Most of the time, it does not matter whether or not the club directly correlates to a student’s interests, but rather that it fills a void that may lie within their resume. This can lead to many downfalls such as a lack of sleep, bits of anxiety, and overwhelming stress.

These downfalls are often overlooked. Students are praised for the abundance of activities that they are involved in, but rarely are students asked if they are able to live a healthy lifestyle. At the same time, students remain too focused on filling their schedule to recognize that they might need a break.

“Being involved and active creates a good image for yourself, even if it means spreading yourself too thin,” Collin said. The thought of creating a persona that can handle many responsibilities at once is more important than creating a healthy lifestyle.

This does not mean that students should not strive to be involved in activities that they are interested in and that could be beneficial towards future careers. It is important to build a resume, and to join activities that will help one gain the skills that are need in their profession. However, there needs to be a happy medium so that students are not faced with more than they can handle. It is important to recognize when there is an overload of activities, and students should not be afraid to take a step back in order to remain both happy and healthy.

The problem is that the pressure that students feel to add both achievements and skills to their resume can overpower their need to remain healthy. I can recall multiple instances when a friend has approached me with anxiety over the amount of activities on their to-do list. There are also multiple peers of mine that skip meals in order to have more time to finish homework, take a shower or get an extra half hour of sleep. There has to be a time where this lifestyle is seen as concerning rather than admirable.

Students deserve to have down time and deserve to build healthy habits. Student involvement can lead to self-pride, but at the same time can lead to a stressful life as we see with both Collin and Shayli. With less pressure being added by constant conversations surrounding the idea of building a resume to prepare for future endeavors, I believe that students will take on what they are interested in without overloading themselves with what they think they need.

2 thoughts on “Are College Students Stretching Themselves Too Thin?

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  1. What an important topic, Ashley! Here’s to self-care, deep breaths, and boundaries. 😉

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