Famous Australian Explorer Jim Goodman once said, "The time to relax is when you don't have time for it." Nowhere better does this saying ring true than in the lives of diligent students across the globe. Balancing academic responsibility with extracurricular involvement and part-time jobs while attempting to maintain a halfway decent social life, is certainly tricky. Any student, whether in 3rd grade or a college senior, will tell you that being pulled in all of these different directions just leads to more disorientation, confusion, and stress. It is because students lead overly full and chaotic schedules that they have no time to relax, reflect, and absorb what is being told to them. It is important to consider the chaos of the average student's schedule when we, as a society, look to improve the time-consuming process of earning a college degree.
Though the time spent in undergraduate programs could have been spent working, the value of a degree outweighs the temporary monetary sacrifice. Time is indeed money, but getting a college education is invaluable to one's career. The four to six-year time sacrifice that comes with it, however, is less than ideal. So the question is, "How can students graduate quickly, without sacrificing the quality of their education?" The answer to this question, though paradoxical in nature, is rather simple. Increased student focus boils down to one thing: time spent relaxing.
Numerous scientific studies prove that stress negatively affects academic performance. A 2005 study conducted at Princeton University on college freshman, showed that the stresses of balancing increased course work with everyday life led to decreased persistence and focus on their education. Simply put, if the goal is to move students through undergraduate programs faster, it cannot be accomplished by piling on more work in a shorter amount of time, but rather allowing time to truly absorb and reflect on the information being presented.
It seems impractical that the solution to shortening a program is to add more time to it, but the truth of the matter is, stress overwhelms students. In those moments of chaos, students lose their focus and are thrown off course. In order to create time for relaxation while still making it possible for students to finish an undergraduate degree in four years, students must manage their time effectively. The Journal of Educational Philosophy details psychological research conducted on students with strategic time management plans in comparison with those who didn't thoughtfully dedicate their time. The research suggests that the students who managed their time were significantly less stressed, performed better academically, and were on schedule to graduate upon completion of their fourth year of college. Time management is essential to better regulation of graduation times. Students must be introduced to effective time management techniques and be taught how to use them.
The problem is not necessarily students' failure to participate in summer classes, or dual-enrollment programs in high school, but rather their failure to manage their time appropriately and still allows for leisure and relaxation. But how can this be achieved? How can colleges ensure students are managing their time and are on par to graduate? How can students be kept accountable? I believe the answer is rather simple. Monthly meetings with professors or advisors should be put in place. Those meetings should at least partially entail going over the student's progress and their current position relative to graduation. It should be the advisor's personal mission to help mentor and guide students to graduate on par with the rest of their class. The effectiveness of this suggested program can be seen first-hand at William Jewell College. William Jewell assigns multiple advisors to each student and they meet on a monthly, sometimes weekly, basis to discuss the student's progress as well as what classes are still needed for their major and other graduation requirements. Success is certainly evident at Jewell where approximately 92 percent of students graduate in four years with their desired degree compared to national averages of only about 19 percent.
In adopting William Jewell's philosophy of time-management, communication with advisors, and close mentorship of students, the national averages of completion of degree programs within the ideal four years will skyrocket. A generation of unstressed students will emerge ready to conquer the working world. By simply allowing students to relax when they would not have time to do so otherwise, our society will see increasingly focused and persistent graduates. The newly educated workforce, with an invaluable college degree, will be left to shape the future.
I dream of the courtroom. The idea of being affiliated with the noble profession of upholding due process and interpreting laws for a changing society is, in my eyes, honorable beyond belief. I know that there is a lot of hard work that comes with becoming a lawyer, and a major part of that is the intense dedication to academics, both in high school and in future schooling. My parents dropped out of college, and after realizing the hard way that college is invaluable, they both returned. My dad finished his associate's degree, and my mom went on to get a doctorate. The clear difference in their career opportunities is rooted in their education. I know that a proper college education is essential to my future success.
One of the difficulties I must weigh is my family's ability to fund the education I dream of. Because I know how important a college degree is, I am primarily focused on selective schools, which come with a large price tag. The economic burden that comes with funding college is less than ideal, but student loans and scholarships will hopefully allow me to attend such an institution. With my eyes on college and my heart in the courtroom, a successful career is ahead.
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