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The 9-to-5 Scholar: Approaching College Like a Full-Time Job

By Kennie Dionisio

It’s my final semester at Adelphi University and the finish line is glowing bright ahead of me. Looking back, I always wonder what I could have done differently over the past four years. But it’s evident that something had to have worked in my favor. Take it from me, humbly. I’ve climbed my way up to being senior class president, I boast a 3.9 GPA and have a resume so long, it has to be typed in 9 point font. I’ve been involved in almost every club and on-campus job, and I can’t go one minute without being recognized as I walk through the University Center. Being a full-time student has consumed every part of my being to the point where I can’t remember the last time I didn’t have academia on my mind. 

With the realm of higher education constantly changing, students are looking for ways to optimize their college experience and set them up for success in the real world. One such approach is treating college like a full-time job, adhering to the rigid framework of the professional world. Adopting the 9-to-5 mentality in college has its advantages but can pose some challenges. Is this lifestyle really worth it at the conclusion of your academic career?

A structured routine in college, akin to a full-time job, involves building a set schedule for studying, attending classes and completing assignments in a timely manner. Setting specific times for various activities throughout the day is step one to good time management. 

The beauty of college is the fact that you have the liberty to choose what classes you want to take. You might allocate time in the early morning exclusively for your classes so you can take a break in the afternoon, or you might put gaps in your schedule so you can study during those vacant hours. Establishing consistency like this can add rhythm to your day, making it easier to stay organized. 

Solid time management skills are not only crucial to professional success; they also provide health benefits. A study by Psychology Today states that “63% of professionals who identified themselves as lacking time management skills suffered from sleep apnea and blood pressure problems, among other health issues.” 

Studying too much can lead to physical and mental collapse. According to a Handshake study, “Around 80% of class of 2024 students have already experienced burnout.” Yikes. Imagine not even starting your first legitimate job and feeling like throwing in the towel. 

Burnout can manifest itself in many forms. It can look like social and personal sacrifices or declining mental health. Either way, the 9-to-5 mindset gives limited flexibility for college students.

Segueing from college to the labor force is a daunting task. Start preparing for the real world during your college years. Equipping professional skills early on can help lay the foundations for your future successes, and embracing this lifestyle can cultivate discipline and a strong work ethic.

I’ve heard the same advice over and over again from seasoned faculty: make good connections with your professors. Get involved on campus. Take advantage of Adelphi’s resources. The reality is that excellent professional communication skills pay off in the long run.

Engaging with professors can help you get that letter of recommendation for your next internship. Student organizations are a hub of diverse talents and fields that offer numerous networking opportunities. Not to mention, the Center for Career and Professional Development offers a plethora of career coaching services such as resume reviews and mock interviews.

 “Students who successfully prepare for their careers while they are students, typically find themselves better prepared for life after Adelphi,” said Thomas J. Ward, Jr., assistant vice president for career development and strategic partnerships. “Generally, they are able to market the skill sets and experiences to better prepare themselves in launching their career of choice.”

Part of strategizing your college career is looking at your school’s atmosphere. What are students doing on weekends and nights? What fun places are near campus? Is there a party scene? 

It’s no secret that college kids are looking to feel some sort of “rush” in their lives, unforgettable memories that will last a lifetime. For some students, it’s their first time gaining a sense of independence.

According to Harvard Business Review, “Monotony, lack of flow, and a lack of autonomy have all been shown to increase stress.” The workplace mindset can leave students feeling stuck. Eat. Study. Sleep. Repeat. It can be an endless cycle that can affect how you achieve your goals.

If you’re passionate about what you major in, treating your studies professionally can be very fulfilling. Viewing your classes like a big work project can motivate you to strive diligently towards the greater goal of securing a full-time job in your desired field. Deeply focusing on your coursework can help you value the importance of your degree.

I have a strict and overbearing Filipino family who underscored the value of education and academic success. I walked out of the womb writing in cursive and doing times tables. Nothing was more disheartening than coming home with a below-90 test grade and watching my mom berate me for hours at a time. 

Now that I’m in college and my parents don’t have access to my transcript, I’ve had some weight taken off my shoulders. But the thought of my parents even knowing I finished a semester with a couple A-minuses makes me shiver.

Stressing about grades can lead to anxiety, perfectionism and imposter syndrome. Is the hassle of a semesterly 4.0 conducive to living the best four years of your life? No matter your perspective on your college career, it’s important to determine what lifestyle and future goals work best for you.

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