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Copenhagen Business School

A Student’s Dilemma

|   15. Aug 2017

By Caroline Charlotte Boas Andersen, Student at CBS

To work or not to work? That is the question.

The life of a student can be hard. Lots of reading, plenty of typing, and all sorts of assignments and exams that need to be completed. It’s the classic student mantra and students have been living by it since the first universities were established.

And student life is hard. Our job is to gain and attain knowledge in such a speed that we within few years can possess skills to help run and improve all aspects of society.

Though over the last decades, more and more people choose to get a higher education and more and more people come to complete it – more so with high honors. This is of course great news, as a society can never get too many ambitious and educated people, but this also means that more people are competing for the same jobs.

The pressure on students is therefore immense today, as we have to not only study and compete but while doing so, we have to bring our A-game at every exam, every assignment, and every lecture. We have to do this not only to get the acknowledgment from our teachers or peers but mostly in regards to future employers. Our grade average is the main representative of our skills and competencies and our high ambitions don’t just end here.

Because besides academic life, we as students also get part-time jobs. Not necessarily to ensure a more stable financial situation, but to improve our CV, our network, and our overall impression in regards to our future career. The jobs we aim to possess therefore can’t just be any kind of student job. It has to be within certain companies, certain ministries or certain organizations. The more well known the place, the better it looks and sounds. Gaining a student position at high profile firms or corporations are great supplements to the already intense race amongst students.

With this current situation in place, where students not only work hard to get good grades, but also work hard outside of school at their respective jobs, a certain dilemma comes to mind, because should students choose to devote their years at university to studying full-time or should we get ahead in the game and get acquainted with the real life job market and the possibilities that lie here? Is the growing tendency of prestigious averages and high profile work improving us, or is it only a matter of time before students start to crack under this tightly bound structure?

Because it does not seem to ease up. The students who are starting university this fall are all students with way higher grade averages than the students from just a few years back. The bar is therefore already set very high and since the Danish school system isn’t curve based, it’s possible for everyone to get 12 in an exam – that is if they meet the requirements for the course. This is limiting for students to be unique and superior, as the function of being a straight 12 student is becoming more and more ordinary. To stand out in the eyes of a future employer, one therefore has to excel in other areas such as getting a killer student job, or several throughout one’s university years. This, of course, raises the question of how many hours one should put into the given student job. So many, that it makes you miss classes or makes you miss out on seeing family and friends?

The race for the top has definitely become tougher, but are we taking the right route there or do we need to reevaluate what the life of a student has become? Is work really that necessary for our education if it ends up making us miss it?

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