Ds may get degrees, but can a lack of extracurriculars cost you a job?

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Paul Dawson

Getting a degree is hard enough, but what happens when you have the societal pressure of pushing to do more?

A degree in any subject is an extremely difficult thing to obtain. It takes years of hard work, countless hours spent studying, and an extreme amount of stress and grinding just to gain something that might allow you to live the life you want. This is why it leaves me more than a little bit confused as to why students are expected to go out and do more as if a degree isn’t enough. 

Now I understand how this may come across: some millennials getting annoyed because they’re being asked to do “a little more”. But trust me, this isn’t my intention whatsoever; I’m just trying to explain my perspective. I believe that it is massively unfair on students for society to expect so much beyond a degree. 

Student life is a little freedom before you plunge deep into the gritty reality of the working world. This is a time in our lives when you can find yourself, no matter how cheesy it may sound. Student life is stressful at the best of times, so when students have free time it’s understandable why they avoid the confines of working to have memorable experiences, even if it might just be drinking pints with their friends. Students should be allowed to use their free-time in whatever way they see fit, and shouldn’t be pressured by society to go and “do more”. There is an extraordinary amount of pressure from the world for students to do more and be more. 

However, this isn’t possible for everyone. Life at university is extremely difficult, and the wealth of deadlines and assessments is enough to bring anyone to their lowest. Hannah Morrish, a psychotherapist and the higher education lead at The Student Room, put it brilliantly when she said: “The pressure to be successful and get a lucrative job role after graduation is high. Students worry that it won’t work out and they won’t achieve success or personal return on investment.” This excellently represents the thoughts of a large number of students who suffer from great expectations associated with university.

The pressures and stress of a degree being enough allows for a discussion about mental health amongst the student community, as people seemingly forget about the poor mental health of students. The pressure of a degree often leaves many suffering from a vast amount of mental health problems, ranging from anxiety to depression. Research from The Insight Network, which involved 400,000 students and 140 universities around the country, found out that nine out of ten students suffer from some form of anxiety and a third admitted to suffering from loneliness. 

The association between your degree and stress is clear and ranges from first-year students, to those doing masters and a PhD. It can range from first-year students struggling to adapt to life away from home and the pressure to succeed, to PhD students feeling the pressure of obtaining a grant. So it’s of no surprise that an NUS Survey found out that nine out of ten students admit to suffering from stress. 

Overall, the substantial pressure and the great expectations surrounding a degree are ridiculous for many students. The endless hours of grinding out the best possible work leave many exhausted and dead on their feet, so by adding in the extra societal pressure to do more results in students dealing with mental health issues. The idea of a degree not being enough is a joke. A degree is more than enough, and students should do whatever they feel comfortable doing.


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