Treating Study as a Real Job

Simply put, being a student is very much like a job.

Fortunately, I landed my first full-time position only three months after I graduated from college. The job happened to be at my old university. On the one hand, this made things easy—I knew my workplace better than I would any other. On the other hand, this made things challenging—because I thought I knew my workplace better than I would any other. Immediately, I realized that there were worlds of my university I’d never seen or explored.

As my supervisor walked me through my new duties—it felt much like being a student again. But maybe, it’s the other way around. Being a student is more like being a new employee. As a student, you are learning valuable, necessary skills that will aid you in your life’s work. You are making mistakes, asking for guidance, mastering new disciplines, being exposed to new environments. Deadlines, assignments, and superiors are always looming. And common morality demands that you act responsibly, ethically, efficiently, and to the best of your ability.

Simply put, being a student is very much like a job.

This has implications on how we treat the work we do in college. We need to remember to treat study with the same respect as paid work. That means prioritizing time for homework, and—oh yes!—putting on a real pair of pants for that 8 AM class.

It should remind us that the work we do as a student matters. It may not seem like taking GE World Civilizations makes too much of a difference in the long run, but if the institution we have entrusted to educate us found it worthwhile to include it in a curriculum, then we should, at the very least, take some time to ponder why.

The way we manage ourselves matters, too. Guard against overwork, workaholism, and burnout. The time we devote to school should have a healthy balance of rest and recreational time. That means—to go against the current culture—we should not necessarily “soak up this time” by joining every club, extracurricular, intramural sport, and community service opportunity that comes our way. We need sleep. We need rest. We need a break. We need to choose our extracurriculars with wisdom, and understand that it is okay to say no.

But why would we want to say no, when there’s so much awesome stuff to do on campus? Well, because those things are actually secondary. After all, this is the training period, and it makes the most difference of all.

Though I must say, after spending four years paying to learn at this institution, being paid certainly is a nice change.


Ellie Malott is a graduate of the Torrey Honors Institute at Biola University and has recently returned as the Academic Specialist for the program. A San Francisco Bay Area native now based in Los Angeles, she spends her time reading, writing, knitting, and searching for cooler weather. Her passions include studying Russian Literature and advocating for the importance of the Liberal Arts. She blogs at Words etc.

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