How the U.S.’s “9 to 5” Mentality is Affecting Students

February 11, 2019

Going on social media apps such as Instagram or Twitter, you may stumble upon posts about “hustle”. These posts often feature a picture of a luxury car or private jet with a quote about “hard work” transposed on top. These quotes may be from successful business men, such as Elon Musk or Bill Gates. Others promote working long hours because it will, supposedly, benefit you later in life. Although these images have good intentions, they are reflective of the dangerous hard work mentality in the United States. And now, this mentality is having adverse affects on America’s students.

How often do you find yourself staying up past midnight to finish your homework? Have you ever skipped family events and gatherings because you have a project to complete? Have you ever found yourself drinking an unhealthy amount of coffee to keep yourself working? Although not everyone has these experiences, they are a normal occurrence in college. In fact, schools tend to beautify the idea of pulling all nighters and cramming for finals as indicators of hard work and dedication on the part of the student. In reality, these behaviors are a part of a nation wide epidemic of overworking.

Today’s students are more competitive than ever. There is pressure to be a great student and worker in order to outshine other applicants in the increasingly competitive job market. However, this highly competitive nature comes with major consequences. Students are increasingly using (and abusing) Adderall, a stimulant often taken by those with ADHD to assist with focus. The drug is becoming a staple of American college campuses, with The Michigan Daily reporting that Adderall can be found on University of Michigan’s campus for “around $5”. The cheap price in combination with the toxic work mentality of the United States has created an atmosphere of stress and prescription drug abuse on campuses across the country.

Another side effect of the overworked state of the country is depression and anxiety. An increase of academic expectations and skyrocketing work loads have caused college students to become highly anxious and depressed. In a report from ABC News, 20% of students surveyed reported that they have experience five or more high stress life events within the past year. The report also stated that 1 in 5 students surveyed had considered suicide, while 1 in 10 attempted suicide.

So, what can American society do to improve its mentality towards work? It starts in America’s middle school and high school classrooms. From sixth grade onward, the workload put onto a students becomes increasingly heavier. Although it is important to continue to challenge students to do their best academically, school administrators must also challenge students to relax. Parents, teachers, and administrators should practice healthy relaxation skills with the children they interact with on a daily basis. This may come in the form yoga in the classroom, allowing students to listen to music while working, or guiding breathing and meditation exercises.

Everyone experiences stress at times. Stress can may even be a motivator. However, there is a bigger problem at hand in the United States. All Americans are overworking themselves. Students are beginning to put their lives at stake for the sake of “hard work”. All Americans must collaborate to make sure the next generation of students and employees do not succumb to the dangers of overworking.

 

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