Do you hate going back to school? If you answered yes, you’re not alone. The truth is, many students dread the arrival of September and the return to school that comes with it. For as long as I can remember, I counted down the days until the start of summer with anticipation and excitement, and when September started to creep up, I would count down the days with impending dread. Soon, I would be imprisoned by waking up early and school assignments.
At university, back-to-school season is more than just altering your sleep schedule, like it was back in high school. For many, September means moving, perhaps across continents and time zones.
There are actually some scientific explanations for why people may hate going back to school. Let’s break them down.
Everyone always talks about how important sleep is, and people will constantly advise you to get enough of it. Despite all this talk about sleep, the truth is that many college students are sleep-deprived. Morning classes mean you can’t sleep past noon, and you can’t say no to plans with friends because “life is short and college is shorter.” You might not have a chance to go out with your university friends when you’re 30, so you can’t miss out on it now. Not to mention, you’re actually supposed to study and do well in your classes. All of this leaves very little time for sleep.
The truth is, this overly packed schedule is part of the reason why you dread going back to school. Even though many of us work during the summer, there is more free time and not as much pressure to pack in as many activities as possible.
Classroom boredom is a real thing. As students progress in school, they become more and more likely to be bored out of their minds. In first grade, school might feel brand new or exciting; by the third year of university, you’ve been going back to school every September for 15 years straight, and it isn’t new or exciting anymore. Instead of creating a poster with fun facts about your favourite exotic cat, you are writing ten-page essays, or completing four-hour labs. It feels like you have already done everything, and there isn’t any novelty in a new project or assignment.
Another reason you might dread going back to school is because, for many of us, it is much less engaging than other parts of our lives. Research conducted by the Pew Research Centre revealed that even people with meaningful and purposeful jobs found far more meaning out of family time than out of their jobs. Summer vacations mean more time spent with family and friends, and more time doing things that you find engaging and get joy from. School takes time away from that; instead of engaging with others, you are glued to your computer screen for hours every day, doing readings or lab assignments, which can feel like the opposite of engaging work.
You might also dread going back to school because of the change in food you are eating. For many college students, consuming healthy nutritious food is not at the top of their priority list during the academic year. You eat greasy meals served at the dining hall and order late night pizza with your suitemates. You may do that because you are only young once, but it is also a good idea to throw in a random apple or carrot stick when you can. Eating healthy can improve focus, increase your energy, and even make you have a happier outlook on life.
All this talk about the dreaded back to school season isn’t complete without some tips to make it slightly less dreadful. What are the things that you love about vacation? Incorporating some of your favourite things into your school year routine can help take away those end of summer blues. Obviously, not everything is possible — as much as you want to, you can’t steal your cat from your family home — but if sleeping in until 2:00 pm is something you love about summer, find a day during the school year when you can sleep in for that long.