The Plight of the College Student


With the month of July fast approaching, many schools across the states are setting their students free for summer break. For many students, this summer break seems to offer the promise of complete freedom (even if you are spending the entire summer at your house). However, with this year’s break already well under way, I have become introduced to an entirely new aspect of summer vacation. The aspect I refer to is the plight of the college student.

Summer vacation throughout elementary and middle school is relatively simple, from being shuttled around on parents’ errands to pool trips with neighborhood kids and hangouts at friends’ houses. This routine seems to be only slightly complicated as kids enter high school. In high school, the same sort of lazy summer still passes as acceptable. Of course, there is summer reading to attend to for most kids, as well as the projects and papers accompany this reading. In addition, as kids start the move towards becoming young adults, they go on the search for their first jobs, usually at supermarkets, ice cream parlors, summer camps, and other such places. However, lack of a job hardly spells out doom for most kids. A month or two of lounging poolside, going on vacation, seeing friends, and generally being carefree is as acceptable as ever.

To me, it seems that this entire pattern of summer vacation ends abruptly the moment one becomes a college student. In high school the main concern with graduating was getting into a good college or the college of your choice. Once you actually get to college, it is a whole new world. Along with piles of reading and homework, there is the constant dark cloud looming over everyone’s head; there is an endless amount of talk and worry about what one will do after college. It is no longer just acceptable to have a declared major and to work towards earning that degree. No college student can even think about being competitive without gaining experience, recognition, something that makes them stand out just a little bit more than all the rest. This is exactly where the plight of the college student comes in.

With the actual school year containing classes, extracurricular activities, and possibly a job, most outside experience is best gained during the summer. Therefore, college students are forced to bid goodbye to those lazy, relaxing summers as they face the mad scramble to find any occupation that can help establish a resume. Most often this comes in the form of travelling abroad or of internships, those coveted, unpaid jobs that can provide such valuable experience for any able student. The competition for internships of any kind can be competitive enough that some students will take anything they can get. Some get lucky and get exactly the internships they want; they end the school year with the promise of a summer well-spent, albeit with a bit of work involved. On the other hand, those students who are unlucky enough to be denied any sort of travel or internship are forced to face a summer at home. Perhaps they get a local job, perhaps they take summer school; even with those preoccupations, they are reminded often of their apparent “failure.” With no internship and no travel, these students are forced to face the reality that they are not gaining experience that will seem “valuable” enough to highlight on a resume.

This plight of the college student is one that I was introduced to as I finished my first year of college. It leaves me wondering how many college students will spend this summer working for internships and other occupations more for the ability to put a name on a resume than to truly enjoy the experience they are about to embark on. I also wonder how many students will spend their summers at home, reminding themselves every day that they are failures, regardless of whether that is or is not true. It seems to me a flawed system for gaining experience, but one that we nevertheless must work with in order to succeed.

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Comments

  1. heatherlaynee says:

    I feel like this article was written for me! I just finished my freshman year of college and I can definitely relate to the “plight of the college student”, as you call it.

  2. I totally agree with everything you said!

  3. I completely agree that there is a definite “plight of the college student” — but as college students growing up in this new age, we have to remember that our generation is creative and foreword thinking! We can sit at home and worry, we can go out and get a job, or (probably the best option to have fun & try to make some money) we can create our own jobs by creating a business of our own! 🙂 It just takes a little drive, determination and passion.

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