Editor discusses dividing line between hard work, dangerous stress levels for F&M students

By Joe Yamulla || Opinion & Editorial Editor

It’s the middle of the semester, and if you walk around campus you can see it in every student’s eyes. It’s inevitable that a student will encounter some form of exhaustion, anxiety, stress, or even depression at this time of year. Why? It’s because we care. We sacrifice a financial arm and leg to attend this college, and that certainly comes with the desire to succeed and make it all worthwhile. I’ll start by saying this, I’m happy to be a Franklin & Marshall student. But, when do professors take things too far? There has to be some kind of tipping point where the benefits of education subside and the effects of the mental and physical strain sink in.

I think most students can relate to this feeling, where the world feels as if it’s suffocating you and your heavy responsibilities just make it even more challenging to breathe.

I believe in education. I love academia and hope to earn a profession it it someday. However, the moment students start sacrificing their health, happiness, and personal relations with their friends and family, there needs to be a step back.

It’s at times like these where a mutual understanding and respect needs to form between student and professor. Unfortunately, it seems that many students just accept that this misery is inescapable and professors end up overlooking the emotions of their students. It becomes a repetitive cycle, and students develop an extreme level of distaste for their academic life and surroundings. They end up straying from future opportunities to earn graduate degrees, and the enlightening benefits of education lose their significance.

I think that there is a difference between learning and brain slamming. We all know the stereotype: knowledge is power. Well, it really is. But knowledge in its truest sense can only come to fruition when students are taking it on head first; passionate and excited to grow as individuals. What I see a lot of at F&M, and especially over the past week or two, is brain slamming. Students are cramming massive amounts of information into their brains which raises their stress levels wildly.

Because of this, students begin neglecting the basic pillars of their overall health: such as fitness, nutrition, and the personal connections humans need to remain happy. At the end of the day, this isn’t what learning is meant to be.

There really aren’t any benefits to this method of learning or this lifestyle. Students aren’t growing or challenging the ways they think. They’re just going through the movements, trying to overcome a series of obstacles so they don’t let down their parents. I might be an optimist, or just a total nerd, but I truly think F&M students are extremely passionate about what they’re learning.

From the English department to Environmental Studies, I see so many unique perspectives in combination with a deep level of interest towards subject matter. Students here have unique voices and minds and it’s unbelievably depressing to see so many of them deeply discouraged or damaged at this time of the semester.

This college can and should do whatever it can to prevent this experience. In my opinion, it starts with communication.

Professors and students should be comfortable having real conversations about these kinds of issues. I feel that there is a stigma about professors in which students assume that they will refuse to budge on their assignments or opinions. F&M has professors that are second to none and I do think that they certainly would understand these sentiments if the student is willing to be honest. We’re college students and we certainly are not immortal. We can’t pretend that we are. When we try to do everything, we fail. Students are horrified to hear it, but it’s true.      

The student body and the College as a whole would benefit tremendously in accepting that there is a problem in the academic culture. It should not be a time of stress and misery where each day is more of a drag than the last. Instead, it should be one of hard work, intellectual growth, and happiness. Yes, happiness. That shouldn’t be a bizarre or extreme thing to say in regards to the academic experience.

The health and happiness of the student body should be a major part of the Franklin & Marshall dialogue. I hope to see it become an increasingly more prevalent aspect of the academic culture here at F&M.

Junior Joe Yamulla is the Opinion & Editorial Editor. His email is jyamulla@fandm.edu.

USA, New Jersey, Jersey City, Teenage boy (14-15) sleeping in classroom

Photo courtesy of huffingtonpost.com

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