This weekend I called my mother who lives in my hometown, five hours away from Radford. This past week was extraneous on my mind and body, so I was venting to her about all the problems I have been having.
Last week I had three exams and a paper due. I had to memorize French irregular verbs, finish up a paper on presidential policies, and learn scrupulous facts about the 15 countries that were in the USSR at the same time. Somewhere in between memorizing the conjugation for aller and reading about Kazakhstan’s economy I broke down. I cried for every question I was not going to get right on my upcoming tests. I cried because no matter if I studied every spare moment I could that week, I still felt like I did not do enough. I cried because I felt like I was wasting the best years of my life in an institution that stresses me out to the point of mental collapse.
I’m telling my mother all of this, and after I’m done she is quite for a moment. She then says, “Oh, sweetheart those are just the junior year blues. Everyone feels overwhelmed because the expectations, amount of work, and difficulty of material are raised immensely. Push through, these should be the best years of your life!” The best years of my life, huh? I sure hope not. If junior year is the best it is going to get, then we should all not have very high expectations for life.
I asked my fellow junior friends how their semester was going and almost all of them replied that they were having a hard time. This is the first year most juniors are living off campus and they are finding it difficult to balance work and play. Also, the walk from off campus to classes is a long way and takes a lot more time compared to when we all used to live on campus.
What I was not expecting when living in my first house are all the added on responsibilities. You have to keep the house clean, cook all of your own food, and pay multiple bills. And when there are bills, you need money to pay for them by getting a job. This adds one terrible thing to the list of most juniors’ responsibilities: work!
So including being a full time student and having to keep up with a house, we have to work too. I have a work-study position that is not too stressful, but it only pays me once a month. I find myself barely able to buy needed supplies towards the end of the month because I do not get paid bi-monthly like in a normal job. For juniors who have a wage job on or off campus, I commend you. I know it is hard to go to work and then when you get off, go home and slave away even more, whether it is with homework or housework. Some RU juniors even have multiple jobs, like Meredith Maiola, a music therapy major, who works at Panera in Christiansburg and also has a work-study position.
With all of these added responsibilities that we are being bombarded with, school is unfortunately going to be put on the backburner sometimes. I have found that the workload that I was able to take my first two years (16-18 credit hours) is not possible this year without receiving bad grades at some points. A lot of other RU juniors agree with this and wish that they did not take such a large class load this fall.
Also, when living off campus, there are always distractions available to you to deviate you from all your work. Roommates may blare their music or friends may be ask you to come over to their house for a few drinks while you are trying to do homework. Even though sometimes it is okay to give in to these distractions, make sure that you stay on track and not procrastinate too much!
Juniors have a lot on their plate. From schoolwork to housework, our brains never seem to turn off. Hopefully all of our work will pay off one day, and our lives will become less stressful and cause less mental breakdowns.
Published by Radford University’s The Tartan on Mar. 13, 2016