Saying no: a student’s biggest hurdle
Yoohyun Park/Production Coordinator
By: Ardena Bašić, Contributor
Taking on too many commitments causes undue stress and declining quality of work
In a day and age filled with endless opportunity, we can be quite eager to try out different pursuits. Especially as students focus on education and career-building, the prospect of new extracurriculars appears promising.
A kind addition to one’s resume or LinkedIn page, an answer for an interview or even a conversation starter with a professor or classmate are among the various benefits of such activities.
However, although it is often overwhelming when we take on too much, it is difficult to say “no” when we ponder all the paybacks. For students especially, we need to allow ourselves to say “no” more often and be honest with ourselves about how much energy we can really afford to put out.
The process of getting into schools and obtaining jobs is becoming increasingly competitive. Admission rates to many universities are reaching record lows and the job market for new graduates is especially complex, with employers setting standards far higher than in the past.
In this sense, it seems logical for students to want to take on more clubs, volunteering positions, internships and part-time work. After all, anything could be the advantage that sticks out to a recruitment officer at a firm or school.
Reflecting on this idea makes it challenging to quit any opportunity, even if it may make one’s life far too overwhelming.
School is already challenging given deadlines, expenses and long hours required by most programs. Adding a reasonable number of other commitments can be managed to an extent, but there comes a point of diminishing returns.
For example, choosing to write blogs for three websites as opposed to one might reduce the time and energy one can put into them and by extension their quality. Moreover, choosing to do many sports over focusing on one or two makes it difficult for one to put their full energy in.
Yet, it looks good on a resume, doesn’t it? A future employer might find it impressive that one juggled so many pursuits, no matter the overall quality of them individually. It is this circular thinking that can cause undue strain and pressure on a student’s already busy life.
Although it may be difficult, students need to be honest with themselves about how much they can reasonably take on. How many hours — outside of school — do you have to spend on putting quality energy into a pursuit?
Then, look for where your passions lie. This might mean balancing some things you don’t love, but look good on your resume, with other things that light up your spirit. Our life is filled with compromises and our time as a student is no exception.
Furthermore, analyze what you’re doing in your free time. It is easy to pick up our phones and scroll through social media and then fret about not having enough time for other things.
Being more cognizant of these factors through critical reflection will help us better manage our time and be able to pick and choose our endeavours more accordingly.
Overall, students can easily get caught up in the chase of doing as much as we can to gain the most reward. This will catch up to us eventually in not being able to put as much effort as we want into what we’re doing.
Stepping back and asking ourselves tough questions: what we really want, like and hope for can help us make more prudent decisions in how we fill our time. It is this process than can help us overcome yet another hurdle of being a student and improve this season of life for the better.