One of the reasons college graduates get good jobs
is because they have proven how well they can deal
When I was a student, it was common to enroll in
16-18 hours a semester, stay involved in at least 2-3
campus organizations, live in a dorm/apartment with
several roommates, and work (at little or no salary, I
might add) for a professor who knew about the real
world. It was stressful, indeed, but the excitement of
exams, fraternity incidents, overdue bills, grumpy
professors, and crazy girlfriends seemed to keep me
I recall one week in which I did not do all too
well on an exam, the fraternity got in trouble for
riding motorcycles down the stairs, my bank account
was down to $1.80, and Dominoís pizza had requested
a warrant for the arrest of one of my roommates. It
seemed like a living hell and I had to take a long,
hard look at priorities.
Stress can make you do some pretty creative things.
It was on a Friday Night, before a 7:30 AM Saturday
Calculus Class, that I was thinking about a party down
the street and homework due the following morning.
Since this was a math class, and all, I took out
the handy-dandy calculator, that we all wore on our
belts those days, and performed an interesting
Assuming, back then, that a college graduate makes
an average of about $20,000 a year more than
non-graduates - for about 30 years, this means that a
diploma is worth about $600,000 in a personís
lifetime. Iím sure a diploma is worth more these
days. And if you figure that most students graduate
from college in 4 years, that means that every year is
worth about $150,000. If you break that down to
attending class 32 weeks a year at 16 hours per week,
this means the average lecture has the potential to
add $293 to a personís lifetime income.
That sure made me think. I mean, was Dr. Kaufmann,
who was teaching Calculus on Saturday morning really
worth $293 an hour? Which also made me think, at $293
an hour, 16 hours a week, and 32 weeks per year,
professors should be making $150,000 per year. Hmmmmm.
Well, I donít think Dr. Kaufmann made even a
third of that salary, but he was worth every bit of
the tuition I paid at Purdue University.
Since that class, Iíve used Calculus on numerous
occasions and even published a few papers on growth
dynamics of plants using partial differential
equations. So, even with a stressful week, I got the
homework done and made it to class on Saturday
morning. This is not to say I didnít enjoy the party
that evening, but I did go knowing my homework was
done and I had a new, positive perspective on
Perhaps the best way to deal with stress is through
productive reasoning. Iíve always felt that there is
a purpose for the many challenges of life, and school
is one of the greatest opportunities we have to
fulfill our lives. I relish the days of anxiety and
anticipation when professors return exams.
Weíve all lived those cold hands, sweaty armpit,
knot-in-the-stomach, and diarrhea days. But they are
ever so much enjoyable when you realize that
challenges are what motivate us to persevere, stay
positive, and continue our quest for new knowledge.
After all, life would be pretty boring if there
werenít any challenges and people knew everything.
So whatís in store for you after college?
More stress, of course. But many rewards as well.
When you find yourself overwhelmed in class, too tired
to study, and disappointed in your academic
performance, stay optimistic. The old saying of,
ďwhat goes around comes around,Ē also known as the
First Law of Thermodynamics, is really true. Hard work
is rewarded. It just takes a little longer than you