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"Students have it so easy."

  1. Feb 26, 2017 #1
    Just wondering people's thoughts on this statement, particularly relating to STEM fields.

    A friend of mine has twice this week complained about how her job is so tough/stressful and that I should cherish student life while I still have it. She's an accountant and that's what she studied up to masters level.

    Personally I've never seen physics studies as an easy ride. From the very start it's been intense courses where slacking is only rewarded with swift failure. Hell I even learned the hard way last semester as I did slack a bit and now my grades are in jeopardy.

    In the UK, the stereotype is that some students only have to go to campus two or three days a week. For me it's been Monday to Friday since day 1, with full days of lectures and private study. Hence the 'student slacker' comments sometimes really grate on me. It seems all students are given a bad rep because of the wasters on Micky Mouse degrees who really do have it easier.

    What do you guys think about this? Were/Are your student days a breeze that you wish you could return to and repeat joyously? Personally I can't wait to be freed from the intensity and pressure of having to learn and digest constant streams of material for exam deadlines. Student life has its perks, but it certainly isn't easy street, at least in my physics-studying experience.

    For the record I'm a mature student so I do know about adult working life too.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 26, 2017 #2


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    I think it's often a case of "the grass in greener on the other side of the fence."

    There is a lot of uncertainty in student life - how you're going to pay for your education, constantly being evaluated (sometimes on things that really aren't all that fair), whether you'll make the cut to get into the next step, etc. I think people tend to forget this fairly quickly once they move out into the working world. This is largely because once it's past one's perspective is different. If it all worked out for you, the anxiety seems almost silly in hindsight. That doesn't invalidate it while it's being experienced though.

    Looking at student life from the outside, you also tend to notice the 'lowest common denominators.' There are students who get by with little studying, party a lot, wake up at the crack of noon, spend time with clubs or organizations that non-students don't have access too, etc. You don't as easily see the guy who's waiting for the library to open at 6:00 am, overloads his courses, works a part-time job, and gives up a summer job making $25/hr to make peanuts doing research that might further his career.

    There's also an element of "they have it easy compared to me." For example, the internet I had access to in the mid 90s paled in comparison to what kids these days have access to. Or, I often see people freaking out over course loads that seem to be far less than what I had to endure.

    I think there's also a "stage of life" argument too. Now that I have children I look back at how easy my life was prior to having them - not that I would trade it for anything - but I just didn't appreciate how much easier life was when I was the only person I was responsible for.
  4. Feb 26, 2017 #3


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    I tend to agree with it, though I think many people are over-stressed (they take in too much stress, unreasonably). That applies to both working adults and students.
    I doubt she meant it that way. But college is clear-cut, linear, resets every 5 months, has triple the off-time and for most people includes exactly zero responsibilities outside school itself. There are few people who are working adults who don't say college life (not just the job itself vs the school itself) was easier.
    I'm sure she wasn't saying that.
    Sorry, but that simply isn't possible/doesn't follow.
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2017
  5. Feb 26, 2017 #4


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    My thoughts exactly. It's always easy to see how hard YOUR lot is and to think that others have it easier.
  6. Feb 27, 2017 #5
    Cheers for the responses. I was in a weird grouchy mood yesterday and knew full well that this thread was nothing other than a pointless moan.

    You guys are right about it being a case of 'the grass is greener...'.

    I suppose it also depends on what a person does with their life after uni, and what they actually did at uni.

    The reason I added that I know what 'adult life' is, is because I feared some people might storm in and tell me I'm 'just a student' who hasn't lived yet.

    On another forum I use, people will find any and every excuse to make character attacks on people, so I thought I should cover my back.
  7. Feb 27, 2017 #6
    As someone who works full time and takes a full load of courses (and has been doing this for 2 years now) - if I had the choice to work the same number of total hours I'm putting in between work and school or double my course load, I would choose school in a heartbeat. Not that school is easier, but that it provides clear expectations, fewer responsibilities (in that your actions largely only affect yourself), and has defined breaks.. Your friend sounds like she may regret the path she took.
  8. Feb 27, 2017 #7


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    I'll rephrase: this is a question about the emotion of the experience, not about the facts of the experience. So while it is possible to "know what ______ is", that doesn't mean you know/understand what it is like to go through the experience.
  9. Feb 27, 2017 #8

    Vanadium 50

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    In the words of Monty Python...

  10. Feb 27, 2017 #9
    Ha! "Four Yorkshiremen"...

    ...Guess where I'm from..?
  11. Feb 27, 2017 #10


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    I'll take a wild guess and say 53.65° N and 1.78° W. :oldbiggrin:
  12. Feb 27, 2017 #11
    I choose school too but I don't think it has clear expectations compared to the business world where relatively speaking you know what you're paying for.
  13. Feb 28, 2017 #12


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  14. Feb 28, 2017 #13
    I suppose another factor for me here is that I come from a relatively simple background. To be honest I don't know many people at all who work the kind of jobs that have high levels of responsibility or stress. Maybe this is why I don't like it when "work life vs student life" comparisons are made. Everyone I know just goes to work, goes home, then gets their weekend or days off and can do whatever they like. On my weekends I'm constantly telling myself I should carry on studying, because exams results don't care about the time I didn't commit to preparation.

    Not that I spend every living second studying, but when I'm not I feel like I should be.

    Yeah, I guess it is a case of personal experience and 'grass is greener'.

    Though here in Yorkshire, the grass is very very green regardless :oldbiggrin:
  15. Feb 28, 2017 #14
    The challenges are different. In school, usually there is a fairly clear expectation and objective standard for whether it is being met. In most cases, expectations are laid out clearly on the course syllabus the first day of class.

    After graduating, I found the standards to be more subjective, and the bigger challenges related to figuring out what was really required in a given job or career path. What is expected of me and colleagues I've gotten to know well has often been much different from what we were told when we were hired.
  16. Feb 28, 2017 #15


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    Studying, grading, working at the lab working on my thesis; I don't know the meaning of "social life".
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