Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Mythbuster Edition: School is better than a regular job

Being a student was all I ever knew from 5 years old to 23 years old. That's 18 years. It was both torture and enlightenment. I now have a job that is very laid back. I work 35 hours a week, everyone in my research group is friends, and I get paid more than I've ever been paid in my life. This life is paradise compared to the past several years.

When I went to school there was always some pressing deadline coming up. I was constantly worried about assignments and tests and had to force myself to neglect my work to have fun. Well it wasn't always forcing myself, but having fun always meant I needed to procrastinate on something.

Now I'm free. My deadlines are strict, but not so difficult to meet that I can't get absolutely everything done before 5:00 every day (4:00 most days). I have time to ride my bike home if I want, cook a nice dinner, watch tv, go shopping, or whatever I want. All this comes with no guilt because enjoyment no longer is coupled with procrastination.

As a student I almost always heard from adults that I should enjoy being a student because a regular job is much worse than school. I started having my suspicions about that a few years ago, probably when I was a junior. School sucked. I was constantly stressed and people could see it on my face when I had the strength to neglect my work and go hang out with people.

Some theories about why people feel like work is worse than school:
  1. They had an easy major at an easy school.
  2. They are workaholics and don't know how to drop what they're doing at 5:00 and go home.
  3. They have an abusive work place that doesn't allow them to work less than or equal to 8 hours a day and don't have the ability or guts to quit their job and find a better one.
  4. Work is, by nature, worse than school.
Now, I have an extremely cush job as I explained above, so I can't claim an incredible amount of authority on this matter. I am quite confident, however, that my top three reasons happen all the time and are the main reason why people think school is better than work.

Theoretical Idea of Work
Go to office at 8:00. Work till 12. Take hour lunch. Work from 1 to 5. Go home. Live life.

Work is often some mundane task that nobody would ever be willing to do unless they were paid to do it. This is how the world operates. People get paid to do things that need to be done. Sometimes it's a fun job that you were lucky to get or you are one of the few people who are qualified for it. Sometimes it's a boring job that nobody else wants, but you're willing to do it because it pays the bills.

Unless you have the most enjoyable job ever and have no commitments outside of work, you will usually go home around 5 or 6. This leaves about 4 hours to do non-work related things. This is slightly lame. If I had my druthers I would work 4 hours so I could have 8 hours of non-work related things in the afternoon/evening. But this is apparently the sustainable work-to-nonwork ratio that is necessary for sustaining a "successful" capitalism.

This sounds lame, but you still have that 4 hours in the evening. In school, those 4 hours were reserved for doing homework, guilt-stricken-fun-having, or guilt-stricken-errand-running. In the work world, those 4 hours are reserved for guilt-free-relaxing, guilt-free-errand-running, or guilt-free-fun-having.

Dear stressed student,
Take this not as mocking, but rather as encouragement. If school's got ya down, take hope for a day will come when you can have a job and not live under the constant oppression of homework. Another suggestion could be to take this as an opportunity to stick-it-to-the-man and start worrying less about your grades. I started worrying less about my grades when I became a senior and it made life better.
Former Student

Dear disgruntled worker,
Take this not as mocking, but rather as encouragement. If work's got ya down, take hope for a day will come when you realize it's not that bad or you will finally have the courage/ability to stop being abused by your work place. Another suggestion could be to take this as an opportunity to stick-it-to-the-man and quit your job. This will create new jobs and will surely boost the economy. ***Evil Laugh***
Joyful Worker

***Revision-11/4/2010: It was suggested to me, by a friend with a "cardboard box major" (music), that I should add a fifth category. That 5th category would be those people who had a major that was actually really fun and not necessarily easy. This is an important category to include because they are often the people who end up with the boring part time job to complement their minimal income from art, music, theater, etc. They also may be the kind of person that gave up on their field of study because of the low income and thus were forced to have a ridiculously lame job. This situation surely makes up a portion of disgruntled workers who would say that school>work.


  1. I've worked full time (40+ hours a week) jobs over the past 4 summers. I liked that so much more than school because you got work done at work, free time for fun, and you had a source of income. School is a drain because you go to school, you do work in your free time, and like you said, anything you did for fun is just guilt-laden.

  2. Well, dear son, wait till you find that perfect woman and make the commitment to marry and "settle down". The fun is just beginning. Unfortunately along with all the fun comes all the responsibility. Hopefully you will get a job that you love and that you are able to turn it off at 5:00. But at any rate the joy that comes along with all the responsibility makes up for all the worry. Enjoy your life and as
    ITimothy 6:6 says, Godliness with contentment is great gain.
    Meanwhile, I think I will go soak up some ARIZONA SUN since I am one of those who has quit their job because the stress was costing me and my family more than it was paying.

  3. I would totally agree. Having an internship this summer was 1000 times more relaxing than school. In school, even after spending six to seven hours in class, I still don't feel like I've been productive until I top it off with several hours of homework, and occasionally doing other "work" projects on the side. When you work 8-5 (or 9-6 in my case) you come home, feel like you've done your work for the day, and can then do whatever you like. Its amazing!