Life as a College Student
In a 2012 study conducted by the University of California – Los Angeles, researchers found that a good academic reputation was the top factor students considered when comparing colleges. Prestigious institutions that had an excellent track record of academic rigor and recognition were highly desirable to students, while those schools that couldn’t demonstrate such a reputation might not be worth fighting for in terms of admissions.
While college is theoretically about the academic experience and education a student receives when enrolled, being a college student is about far more than just learning in the classroom. Student life is generally so different than anything the average college student experiences in his or her life before college that being a student can transform almost every single aspect of a person’s life.
A Place to Call Home
Students are expected to spend a significant amount of time studying, but they’ll also need a place to sleep, eat and generally live life. For some students, on-campus housing is the perfect housing solution.
According to a Wright State University survey, on-campus residents are less likely to skip class, more likely to stay in school.
Some students are drawn to living in dorms because the schools they attend provide a state-of-the-art, beautiful living environment.
New dorms at the University of Michigan, for example, provide:
- Smart boards in study areas
- Flat-screens in common areas
- An award-winning cafeteria
- Central air-conditioning
- Suite-style rooms
No matter where students choose to live, they’re likely to tap into increased opportunities for socialization as soon as they enter college. Sometimes, these social interactions turn sour, as alcohol might play a prominent role.
599,000 students ages 18 to 24 are injured each year due to alcohol
696,000 students ages 18 to 24 are assaulted each year by a drunken peer
Thankfully, there are a variety of other social opportunities students can engage in that have nothing at all to do with booze. For example, some colleges offer intramural sports activities, which allow non-athletes to form teams and engage in a little healthy competition. These sorts of activities are popular with students. According to an University of Texas at Austin survey, 9 of 10 students participate in recreational sports or use on-campus sports facilities.
Even spiritual activities, such as going to church or participating in a Bible study course, might be considered a social activity for some students. Although the LifeWay Research as reported by Tarrant County College suggests that 66% of students choose to leave the church when they enter school, some Tarrant County College students indicated that they find that nurturing their faith is a vital part of their college life experience.
Study and Learning
While housing and socializing are huge parts of student life, it’s no secret that people go to school in order to learn, and in order to do that, they’ll need to attend class and hit the books on a regular basis. For most students on campus, these activities take up a considerable amount of time.
6 percent of students spend 16 to 30 hours each week in class
7 percent of students spend 16 to 30 hours each week studying outside of class
26 percent of students work on class projects outside of class very often
14 percent of students go to campus libraries more than once per week
Source: Resident students polled by the Office of Research and Evaluation Division of Undergraduate Education, University of California, Irvine
- Working at an internship
- Mentoring another student
- Completing background reading not required for class
- Participating in laboratory experiments
- Academic counseling
- Study skills coaching
- Writing/editing services
College students have limited time, and sometimes, they’re faced with few opportunities to cook healthful sustaining meals. Most college dining halls will offer healthy food alongside junk food¾and as a doe-eyed freshman, it might be hard not to eat pizza for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You might even think that’s what adulthood tastes like, but that’s just the Freshman 15. It’s common for students to pack on the pounds while at school, especially in their first year.
In addition to gaining weight, students might also be cutting back on the amount they sleep each night.
Source: Auburn University in Alabama, as reported by Health
Source: University of St. Thomas in Minnesota, as reported by The Aggie
It’s hard to maintain a healthy lifestyle when not eating well and not getting enough sleep, and this can impact academic performance. For many students, it’s a question of struggling a little bit with finding a healthy balance before it clicks, which is the sort of learning experience college is all about.
Making It Work
College is about making the transition from childhood to adulthood, and a little bit of experimentation and failure is just part of the learning process. Some students wobble a bit, and they find their own path to success without any kind of outside help. For some students, however, a little assistance can make all the difference. Unfortunately, many students don’t ask for this help. According to a National Alliance on Mental Illness study, 50 percent of students with a diagnosable mental health condition didn’t ask for help in college.
Visiting the student health center, talking to a counselor or otherwise reaching out to an expert could allow students like this to stay in school and obtain the academic success they deserve.