Get the scoop on making the grade

by Jason Smith

Getting a high quality post-secondary education is important in today’s economy. An associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree could be the key to higher paying jobs. As more high school graduates, young and old, matriculate into universities this fall, they do so with trepidation. There’s some excitement because it feels like a fresh start; however, there are many fears that come with it, for example, the fear of failure or the fear of not having enough time to balance work, family, and school. There is also financial pressure from taking on student loan debt. Though the cost of going to college is much more than financial, the rewards can be worth it.

When I graduated high school, I enrolled in Bowling Green State University as a music education major. I was taking 21 credit hours, most of which were performing arts courses-trombone choir, jazz band, university band, men’s chorus, and marching band. As a freshman, I was inexperienced with time management and did not realize that 21 credit hours was an intense course load.

To top it off, I started feeling the financial pressure of going to college. I was a commuter and drove daily from Toledo to Bowling Green to attend classes. Back then, gas was cheaper than it is today, but I still felt the pain of having to pay too much for gas. It was as if my earnings from work went right into the gas tank.

I had maxed out credit cards and started getting collections calls at home. All of this mounting pressure eventually led to anxiety, which ended up in depression.

Fast forward ten years and I finished a bachelor’s degree in business administration. Going to college out of the Army was quite a different experience. First, I hardly had to pay out of pocket to attend because the Montgomery GI Bill and the Post 9/11 GI Bill covered most of my expenses. Not to mention, the Kentucky National Guard paid me to go to school with a monthly stipend while I was a cadet. I felt no financial pressure there. However, I still felt the crunch of social pressure after I was married and had a child. With a few quarters left, the coursework was heavy and much of my attention was on school instead of spending time with my family.

Everyone’s situation is different. Some can manage better than others can. Bland, et. al. (2012) conducted a study of millennial college students to identify their stress tolerance. Among the top stressors of millennials, they found the pressure to do well in school and to meet parental expectations to be the top stressor (p. 368). In addition to this stressor, they found that the change in living conditions ranked higher than beginning college and relationship problems outranked financial stressors. Time management summarizes the major daily hassles students have while attending college. Under this heading, the stressors include tests, procrastination, lack of sleep, assignments/papers, time management, deadlines, and increased workload at school.

Another study, conducted by Adamle, Riley, and Carlson (2009) evaluated the impact of pet therapy on college students. Their assessment suggests, “A pet therapy program could be accepted by first-time residential freshmen college students and may provide beneficial support” (p. 547). In The Human-Animal Bond, I discussed the benefits of owning a pet: “pets help us to manage stress, they keep us active, and they make us sociable toward others” (Smith, 2012).

More than ever, college students could use a companion animal to help them cope with stress, especially in this uncertain economy. In fact, “college students revealed increasing stress levels toward future employment opportunities rather than current employment opportunities,” according to Guo, Wang, Johnson, & Diaz (2011, p. 540). They found this stressor to be pertinent among pending graduates compared with other undergrads. Uncertainty about the future could certainly present a series of stressful stimuli to individuals. Why not have companion animals to help you cope?

Non-traditional students like me, may have a family that already includes a companion animal or two. In addition to attending school and having a family, non-traditional students usually work a full-time job with a minimum of 40 hours per week. If time management was an issue for the millennials, I can only imagine how difficult it must be to balance work, school, and family. Actually, I don’t have to imagine because I lived it. I went to work, then I came home long enough to have dinner, and then I was out the door to attend class or I attended class on my computer at home through online courses. With a one-year old, I sacrificed considerable time with him, moments that I will never get back, to earn my college degree. I further sacrificed time with my wife. When I finally graduated, I felt a huge burden lift off my shoulders. What if I had a dog?

If I had a dog, I would have had to make time to walk him, play with him, bathe him, and clean-up after him. Yes, I would have had to take the time to clean up the dog poop. Most people don’t clean up dog poop because they think it’s a fertilizer for the lawn or that it biodegrades over time. Some don’t do it because it stinks and it’s disgusting. Some lose sight of the fact that dog poop can cause disease in pets and humans, not to mention that it can harm the environment by becoming a major contributor to source water contamination.

You have enough to do if you’re attending college and cleaning up dog poop shouldn’t have to be another item on your checklist. That’s why we want to show our support for your pursuit of a better life. Take advantage of our college student discount. If you are attending college full-time, you are eligible for a 50% discount on dog waste removal service. Half-time students are eligible for a 25% discount. If you attend less than half time, you are eligible for a 10% discount. Visit kypooperscooper.com and enter promo code FTSTUD50 if you’re full-time, PTSTUD25 if you’re half-time, or PTSTUD10 if you’re less than half-time.

References

Adamle, K.N., Riley, T.A., & Carlson, T. (2009). Evaluating student interest in pet therapy. Journal of American College Health, 57(5), 545-548.

Bland, H.W., Melton, B.F., Welle, P., & Bigham, L. (2012). Stress tolerance: New challenges for millennial college students. College Student Journal, 46(2), 362-375.

Guo, Y., Wang, S., Johnson, V., & Diaz, M. (2011). College students’ stress under current economic downturn. College Student Journal, 45(3), 536-543.

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