As undergraduate students here at UCLA – or any college or university, really – we’ve been programmed to achieve the best grades, fill up our resumes with as many activities or jobs possible; yet, we’ve been encouraged to hold social lives, and explore the “fun” side of college, free of homework or studying (whatever that may be for you).
I remember reading what was supposed to be a funny diagram that presented three choices to the average college student. Students could only pick two of the three options:
When we’re pressured to be social and have good grades, you can guess which of the options are thrown out: sleep. Getting those 7.5-9 hours of sleep every night is necessary for good bodily functions, a clear mind, and most importantly, mental health. But that option of sleeping is dusted off like some unimportant factor of the college experience. What prevails instead of sleep is the unyielding student studying until 3 or 4am in the library to get that grade that probably won’t even matter later on in their lives.
Now I’m not going to lie and say GPA isn’t important because it is – on a temporary basis. You most likely won’t tie down that competitive job out of college without the grades to show it. You most likely won’t be accepted into an on-campus organization if your grades reflect something entirely different than your desires. Most importantly, you probably won’t get into your dream grad school right after college if you just don’t meet what they’re looking for academically. It’s just harder to get into these programs, fellowships, institutions, organizations, etc. when their hiring committees can only base a fair part of your work ethic and seriousness based off of three digits. 3.98 . . . 3.34 . . . 2.87. .
But that’s all the GPA is important for: your undergraduate career and the first year or two after you graduate college. What happens if you don’t get into your dream grad school, dream job, organization, fellowship because of your GPA?
Seriously, if you don’t get that position you want out of college, you’ll have opportunities to work around it, this time without your GPA holding you back. It might take longer, you might have to work harder than you ever have, but knowing that there are many paths to the same destination is something that we, as college students, fail to keep in mind. We have so many opportunities to achieve the things we desire. Those three digits cannot determine the quality or value of your life, ever.
Yet we don’t want to believe that there are second, third, fourth, endless paths to reach our ambitions. We only work our brain until exhaustion hits and can’t think anymore. We work until the wee hours of the morning, resisting this “magical” and “luxurious” process called sleep.
“Damn, I wish I could sleep! I only got like four hours on average this week,”
My student said to me. He had been sick for more than a week now, nose running, coughing heavily, eyes droopy from a mixture of illness and lack of sleep, I couldn’t tell. Was he sick because of the combination of stress and no sleep? Who knows. But I can tell you that his sickness lasted so long because he believed that schoolwork was much more important than his own health.
Since when did we collectively decide that our own well-being, our physical and mental health, should be on the bottom wring of our priorities? Since when did we decide that the value of our lives is less than that of an assignment given to us by our professor? An assignment that we’ll most likely forget in a few months, having no real impact on our future.
I guess all I’m trying to say is:
GET. SOME. SLEEP.
“Pain is temporary, GPA is forever.” Well, screw that saying.
Your body, your health, is forever. Forget everything else.