I feel like college is ruining my life and I'm not sure what to do about it.
posted by jumelle to Education (41 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Originally, I was going to write a post about how I don't enjoy anything in life, and how I see no point in living, existential crisis, blah, blah, blah, but the more I thought about it, my real problem isn't any of these things, it's college.
I've tried highlighting the most relevant bits in bold.
I've been miserable since I started college. I feel like some of the key factors in this are:
I feel like my course work is taking over my life, and that my teachers are impossible to please.
We get a lot of homework as it is, but I also feel like I can never determine what it is my teachers want, or at the very least will be satisfied with.
I've tried asking them to elaborate on the things they would like to see from me (I go to school for graphic design) but the answers I get are never really all that specific. They'll tell me things like, "You have to do the project you want to do," or "Find your own voice," and so on.
There's nothing wrong with this advice, but the problem with executing it is that whenever I try to start a project I'm sincerely interested in and that I want to do, the concept will hardly, if ever, be accepted. The projects I suggest are always criticized as either too banal, too esoteric, too literal or too abstract. The more I try to figure out why this is and try to make my assignments more to other people's likings, the more I feel like an alien from another planet who is totally incapable of relating to other human beings on any level.
I have a really difficult time relating to and understanding the reasoning behind their non-objective feedback, and it seems like the more I try to pry for more information about the way they feel like they do, the more backlash I get. Even when I specify that I'm asking these questions because I want to know more, and not because I lack confidence in the teachers or other students, I don't think it's taken that way. Maybe I'm being overly self-conscious, but the impression that I'm getting is that asking "too many" questions is frowned upon.
If I ask the teacher to recommend a book or name some key terms so that I can do my own research, they'll say, "You have to look on your own, " or "There are no books or words for that. It just is what it is." More than once after hearing this, I've given up on looking for a book on a particular topic, only to coincidentally stumble upon the exact kind of book that I was looking for months or years after my class was over. Sometimes when teachers say that there are no books written on a certain topic, I'll find out that one of the other teachers has been assigning the exact book I was looking for as required reading for the past five years, or that the teacher that I asked has a similar book in their own library.
All of this is making me feel extremely confused and cynical. I alternate between feeling like I can't trust any of the authority figures at my school and feeling like I can't trust myself. I have no clue if it's me or them. I don't see any reason why my teaches would want to sabotage me, but I also don't think I'm doing any thing to warrant some of the responses that I'm getting (i.e. Being told something doesn't exist when it's sitting in the room down the hall.). I can understand how I might be interpreted as annoying, but I also don't think it's possible that I'm THAT much worse than any of my classmates.
I feel like I spend more time stumbling around than I have to. I don't understand their input and I feel like I wind up misdirected a lot when it comes to looking for outside research. I don't think that any of this would be bad or terrible or even significant all by itself, but then the element of time comes into play and ruins everything.
Assignments are large, and have to be completed along a strict timeline. Between multiple assignments, proposals, revisions, revisions of revisions, and so on, it's not unusual that homework will wind up taking up most if not all of the free time that I have outside of class. That by itself is not bad to me. I don't mind working hard. I don't mind spending 8 to 12 hours in front of a computer working on an project, and do so of my own accord frequently when I know I have the spare time.
The thing that makes doing this so difficult when it comes to school work is what was mentioned in the above. I don't understand the feedback or direction that I'm supposed to take. As I revise and revise, I create more and more work for myself while having an extremely difficult time arriving at solutions that will satisfy myself and my teacher.
It's not like I expect to coast by in every class, but the amount of effort that I have to put into classwork seems extremely unbalanced. I don't have any time for a social life, or hobbies, or to even learn about anything else I'm interested in. All of my time is spent stumbling around in the dark and hoping that I manage to trip across something that will earn me a passing grade. Ever since I started college, I've developed worse and worse problems with "anxiety" and "depression" that are really caused by me not knowing what to do, and being miserable and suffering because of it.
It's incredibly difficult for me to keep my morale up when I feel like I'm sacrificing so much, and still have no clear path forward. Sometimes I'll spend an entire day just sitting at the computer, not doing schoolwork, but not doing anything I enjoy either because I feel like I'm dooming myself no matter what move I make. If I try to lighten up the mood by going to see my friends or family, or by playing video games or instruments or whatever, I feel like I'm screwing over my future self because I'll just have to do even more impossible work later on in less time. If I start the work, I feel like I'm sacrificing every other thing that I care about or am interested in. If I want to stand any chance of succeeding, I feel like I have to go through every possible solution imaginable, and I'll be forced to spend all of my time doing that. Once I start my homework, it literally is impossible for it to ever be finished. Something about the concept could always be stronger, better, more visually appealing whatever.
I've snapped out of it now, (though occasionally I relapse) but there was a point about a year ago where I frequently felt like it was more practical to slit my wrists or try to kill myself than it was to go to school with a bad project or a project that I was unable to complete.* I want to finish school and I want to do well, but the pressure is making me do and think things that I've never done before, most of them not good.
I get mostly good grades- mostly As and -As, with usually one B or -B. -B is the lowest grade that you can get at my school without having to take a course all over again for credit. I never make the Dean's List or anything like that. I don't think the grades that I'm getting are worth what I'm sacrificing. I also feel like the work that I'm creating isn't good enough to get me any kind of steady job in the field I'm pursuing. I don't have any sweet connections to help alleviate this. All of this adds to my anxiety. I feel that after all of this, if I don't at the very least get good grades, then I pretty much have nothing.
I'm not sure of what, if anything can be done about all of this. For financial reasons, I really can't go to any other school that's as good as this. I want to try and find a way to make this work.
*I tried talking to counselors at school about this, but they basically told me that the only way that I would be able to overcome any of this stress was by taking antidepressants. This obviously didn't work, since my problems aren't chemical, they're obviously situational. Once I get away from school, I'm usually fine. I explained this, but the only help they're willing to offer is ineffective medication, and counselling that consists solely of telling me that I should be feeling better just as soon as my medication kicks in.