Every semester begins with a week of syllabus explanations, students adding and dropping courses, and ample time for us to get settled into our new schedules. Week two poses new challenges as we dive deeper into our coursework and work to effectively split our time between a full-time class schedule, a social life, and, in some cases, multiple jobs. At the end of the second week, our staff discussed the stresses that come with juggling a college career along with many other commitments.
Committing to a private university in the most expensive city in the country lays the foundation for what many students must do to exist here. Students who need to support themselves through their college careers have to consider the cost of food, rent, and entertainment in San Francisco. Those who partially support themselves or do not need to support themselves do not share the same burden but are faced with the same high cost of living.
For many, whether fully supporting themselves or receiving outside help, this means taking on multiple paid positions in order to live and enjoy being in San Francisco. We have been employed in the food and retail industry, childcare jobs, on-campus jobs, and tutoring jobs, in addition to working at the Foghorn.
We constantly feel that even with a long list of overlapping responsibilities, we could be doing more. With the current job market being as competitive as it is, we are made to feel that we can never do enough to be able to successfully market ourselves to society, or an employer. In addition, the paid jobs that we are able to get are not always helpful in building our resumes, while internships in our fields of interest are often unpaid.
Alongside a 16-credit university schedule, we often feel as though we are spreading ourselves incredibly thin. While taking on all of these responsibilities at once can bring a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment, especially when the work is enjoyable, it is difficult to divide our time equally between each. We feel it is almost impossible to give each responsibility 100% of our effort and dedication.
Taking on multiple commitments also interferes with our free time, as we have to schedule most hours in our day for work or school. With our work duties, we often have to remind ourselves that we came to USF to be students and that work should not have to be our priority. Beyond that, we have to remind ourselves that we are young people who should have time to socialize with our peers and appreciate the city we are working so many hours to afford to live in.
At times, the feeling of being overburdened with work and school can take a toll on our mental health. Oftentimes, it feels as though we are in a constant state of exhaustion when following a full day of class and a long shift at work leaves us no choice but to stay up late to complete assignments. We find ourselves trapped in a cycle that is laced with fatigue and produces work we are not always proud of.
While committing to many things at once can create a vicious cycle, working hard can also be gratifying. We have found that many USF students share a tirelessness for work, school, and life that is inspiring and energizing to be around. Being able to work with these students, exchange tips, and relate to each other’s determination eases our sense of burden, and has helped us solidify a strong work ethic.
That being said, having a dedicated mindset for work and education is different from needing one. In order to make a name for ourselves and support ourselves in this city and its economy, we feel that we need to dedicate ourselves to multiple jobs, while previous generations could graduate with little or no debt by working just one job. With the price of attending a private university like USF on the constant rise, students today need to be extraordinarily privileged not to take on multiple jobs to get them through college. We feel that the costs of this kind of over-dedication to the system outweigh the benefits in terms of our mental and physical health. However, we realize that this is the reality of attending a private institution and we hope to continue to support each other through it.