Fifteen assignments, 15 places to be, 15 clubs to join and just 15 minutes to do it. At least that’s how it feels. The old concern of gaining 15 pounds during your freshman year is no more. The new freshman 15 is the metaphorical weight of having to balance the items on your agenda. Between volunteer work, jobs, internships, classes, maintaining your mental health and a social life, the level of expectations in college is growing harder to meet.
One of the best things about going to UF is the never-ending fountain of opportunities it brings your way. But it doesn’t take long before it feels like the opportunities are overflowing, and it can be hard to catch your breath. The pressure to achieve an unlimited number of goals within the few short years of college can be mentally, physically and emotionally exhausting. From day one, students are told that graduating with a good GPA, having endless hours of community service, having incredible connections and an impressive internship may get you a job in your chosen field.
As if that pressure wasn’t enough, you still have to learn to cope with the normal timeless struggles of being a freshman in college — like being away from your parents, homesickness or learning to cook on your own.
It’s no secret that the job market is becoming more competitive because of the growing number of people choosing to go to college. Although a more educated society creates a better social, political and economic climate in our divided world, for a college student about to enter the workforce, it can be rough. A college degree is no longer impressive enough to land you a stable job; now, employers require valuable, long-term experience and an in-depth knowledge of your field before you even step foot on the job. Students are feeling the pressure to do more to stand out. The intense stress of your studies can rank second to the overwhelming idea of being perfect on paper.
Thirty years ago, workers were trained to acquire certain skills while they were at that job. Now, current employers seek workers that have mastered these skills prior to getting the job. The opportunities given to millennials and Generation Z are often considered when thinking about the future of our own generation, but what people fail to notice is the pressure and stress that comes with these new opportunities we’ve been given.
Not only is our generation having to handle stress meant for mature adults who have already had their life planned out, but we also have to cope with having to compete with other students who may be just as qualified as us. If we don’t take the opportunities that are presented to us then someone else will. It can be a heartbreaking feeling knowing you may have missed a good opportunity because you couldn’t handle another item to check off your to-do list. Being a product of this generation is harder than it looks. It’s more than social media and avocado toast; it’s the struggle of feeling like either you’re not doing enough or you’re simply not enough.
Dana Bryan is a UF journalism freshman.