One of the most prominent causes of student stress is undoubtedly student debt. Between rent, tuition, basic living expenses, and transportation, students are consistently worried about the money they’re spending.
Yes, we get the option of scholarships, but for how many students is this actually an option? Between part-time jobs, building a resume, and dealing with heavy course-loads, who has the time?
First, let’s take a look at the average scholarship standing criteria:
“Scholarship standing for undergraduate students is defined as a 75% average at the end of two out of the last three semesters in the previous scholarship year and the successful completion of not less than 30 credit hours in those two semesters. Students who fail one or more courses during the scholarship year, regardless of the number of courses completed, will not be eligible for scholarships,” (MUN Official University Calendar).
Not less than 30 credit hours between two semesters = 5 courses a semester.
I took the liberty of asking a few students what their semesters consisted of, and whether or not it would allow them to take 5 courses while achieving the best possible grades. Along their reasons was a variety of student issues: mental health struggles, family obligations, lack of affordable and accessible transportation.
One third year student at Memorial was suggested, by their Doctor, to only take four courses, as five had her “constantly working at her frustration level”. A student who excels academically dropped from five to four courses and was no longer eligible for a scholarship despite her outstanding student reputation.
If life were simple and everybody was the same, then this would simply be a rat race to get the cheese. Sadly, life is nothing like a primitive experiment and there are real fundamental differences between people. Differences are not supposed to be forms of valuation, but it seems at Memorial, valuation based on output is happening.”Anonymous
Let’s go through the day of a typical student.
For full-time students, it’s 2-3 classes a day, usually ending around 2:00 or 3:00.
Then, to get home, it ranges from 10 minutes to 30 minutes for most students.
By the time you feed yourself, do whatever household chores that’s required of you, and finish your piles of reading, it’s time to go to bed, or stay up all night completing the three 30-page scholarly articles that you have to complete by the next class.
This summary, for the most part, is for students who may not struggle with mental or physical health issues. If a student is taking five courses, working part-time to afford those five courses, their mental health is going to suffer immensely.
According to research conducted by the National Alliance on Mental Illness:
- One in four students have a diagnosable illness
- 80% of students feel overwhelmed by their responsibilities
- 50% have become so anxious that they struggle in school.
When it comes to students with disabilities, five courses can be challenging not only mentally but physically. If your disability causes fatigue or mobility issues, moving from classroom to classroom can be quite exhausting. When talking about this issue, one student said:
“When you add disability to an impairment like fatigue and subsequently add stairways or navigation through superfluous underground tunnel infrastructure, an impairment becomes a disadvantage.”Anonymous
Of course, to those who are not struggling with this problem, we seem like a bunch of lazy, complaining students who do nothing to help themselves get ahead.
Let’s address the typical questions:
“But what about student loans?”
Most of us have them. Most of us wish we didn’t need them. For many students, though, it is the only way to get an education. Even then, the loans given out do not cover all expenses that come with being a student.
“Get a job then!”
A part-time job is on average 20 hours a week. For someone doing five courses a semester, this is almost impossible.
“You just need time management!”
We have no time to manage.
Scholarships with the requirement of 5 courses a semester are completely unreachable for many students.
This chart says it all. In an ideal world, students would be able to prosper without feeling immense stress and unhappiness. However, with growing interest on student loans, struggling to make time for a part time job, and building your “outstanding student” reputation, being a university student continues to become more difficult.
Making scholarships easier to attain would drastically improve the lives of university students, lessening the stress of paying back astronomical loans and decreasing the financial burden of students.