The Quest for More

Posted by Judy Anne Cavey on Apr 27, 2011 in , , | No Comments

For many undergrads, late nights studying until four in the morning is not unusual.

What drives them, half dazed, minds straying? Is it several Trentas–31 ounces of heart palpitating caffeine–and bigger than a human stomach? That helps, but it takes more than a water tower sized cup of caffeine to keep students in a library until almost dawn.

It’s Not Exams, Studying or Homework

There’s no denying it, college students have a great deal of studying, homework and exams to contend with on a daily basis if they’re pulling a full load. But enough to stay up until 4 a.m.? One sophomore majoring in English believes it’s something else that drives students, despite bags hanging under their eyes. She thinks it’s a “desire for more” which keeps the zombies from shuffling back to their dorm at a decent hour to catch some much needed sleep.

What exactly is this more? The sophomore states it’s purely self-inflicted, claiming they’re “heading towards a common goal.” I suspect it’s probably a combination of competition, fear of what the future holds, parental expectations, that looming student loan debt over their heads and the hope of being “successful”. Often being successful in America translates into making a lot of money and having an impressive title. Shouldn’t being a success offer more than cash in a bank account and a corner office?

The exhausted undergrad asks herself, “…how much of this is healthy, how much for a sense of accomplishment…how much is worth it?”

Is this Pharmacology 101?

At an age when sleep specialists say they require 8-10 hours of shut-eye, many undergrads are getting by on as little as 3. That, in and of itself, is cause for concern, but factor into the equation some are self-medicating too, it’s a disaster waiting to happen. [See my blog, "Party Like a Rock Star?"].

Some students are downing “shots of Nyquil”, while others are buying Adderall from friends with ADHD, washing that down with a Red Bull, or two. You’d think by the drugs described here I’m talking about students majoring in pharmacology. But, this activity on college campuses is as common as owning a lap top–however, that doesn’t make it wise or healthy.

I’m happy to hear the sleep deprived sophomore is sticking to only coffee to keep her upright these days.

Other Coping Methods

There are students, like the sophomore, who want to “keep it clean”, they’ll try other methods of coping. Some take power naps in between classes or during lunch, others opt for yoga and exercise.

But, none of these things really addresses the actual problem–lack of sleep and the even bigger problem of the motivation behind losing that sleep–more.

How Much More?

We’ve seen the reports about what it takes to get hired these days straight out of college. If you aren’t in the top 10-20% of your class, or have majored in a field that went belly-up during the recession, it’s an uphill climb. But, the good news is this, employers want people with at least a Bachelor’s Degree and some sort of experience–paid work, internship or volunteer time.

From this we can make the following deduction: basically, if you do your very best and turn out a decent GPA, along with volunteering or interning, your chances of being hired are good (depending on where you’re located). Will you get the cushy job you want? Probably not. You’re going to have to work for it. And when you finally find yourself doing what you really want to do, it will be that much more gratifying. You’ll appreciate it, believe me, you will. By then more may change into a realistic outlook, that of contentment with less.

Here’s a poll that was taken by Florida State University, which asked workers how the recession has directly affected them: 49% said the recession has helped them recognize the value of “people over things”. Interesting, considering American’s were in hot pursuit of more in the form of “things” for decades; McMansions resembling hotels, gigantic gas-sucking SUV’s, designer skyscraper high heels price tagged in the ridiculous and more, more, more! The driving force behind more is usually greed. Greed was what brought this country to it’s collective knees in the last few years. It’s good to hear that 49% of workers polled have actually learned a valuable lesson in this difficult time–people are more important than things.

At this point, as your heart is palpitating at an alarming rhythm from that second Trenta, ask yourself these questions: “Is it worth it?” and “How much more?”