In the last month three of The VOICE’s five editors quit, and it wasn’t because they wanted more time to hang out in their mom’s basement and play Halo 5. It was a result of burn out.
Burn out is not laziness. It’s having an inhuman amount of work to do, and no time to do it. At some point, something’s gotta give. Clubs have to be abandoned, or course loads trimmed down, or work hours cut.
Burn out is common for community college students because most students are working full or part time as well as taking a full course load.
That is true of The VOICE’s former Opinions Editor, Oscar Trigueros. He is working full time as a waiter and attending William Paterson at Mercer at nights. He describes why he left the student newspaper saying, “I think it was a combination of things. It was burn out. It was tiring balancing work, school, and The VOICE.”
Amazingly, people think students our age–aka millennials–are lazy. Everywhere we go we hear the stereotypes even though the facts don’t bear them out.
A recent article in The Economist says, “CEB, a consulting firm, polls 90,000 American employees each quarter. It finds that the millennials among them are in fact the most competitive: 59% of them, in the latest poll, said competition is ‘what gets them up in the morning,’ compared with 50% of baby-boomers.”
Our generation fuels itself on individualism, self improvement, and even curiosity, but one thing we are not is lazy.
The VOICE staff is pretty representative of the college’s population overall. We have more than just one or two things going on at all times: four or five classes, a job, multiple clubs, family and maybe even a social life in whatever time remains. Those that earned NJ STARS scholarships need to take 5 classes a semester, and international students–like our current Editor in Chief–need 4.
Current VOICE staffer Griffin Jones says: “Originally I joined the VOICE as a resume padder, but I stuck with it because the work is so rewarding. But at the same time I’m taking 5 classes, am co-president of one club, a leader in another, and I volunteer with a local Democratic Caucus. I stay at school until 7 PM at night, even on days I have no classes, just doing work. It’s exhausting.”
On the other hand, students who participate in clubs are statistically more likely to graduate from community colleges, and that’s true for The VOICE, too. Based on Mercer’s most recent data filed with the Higher Education Commission, Mercer has a 23 percent on time graduation rate. By contrast, students who stick with The VOICE have a 98 percent on time graduation rate.
Also, four year universities look for students with strong communications skills, so those who have written for newspapers tend to be attractive applicants. Maybe that’s why VOICE staffers have transferred to Columbia University, Stanford, University of Michigan, San Diego University, and Savannah College of Art and Design just to name a few. Most of us don’t go into careers in communications, we just like to write, but a few have gone on to jobs at places like NBC, and even The New York Times.
We know we risk burn out, but we see the benefits. Current Editor in Chief Maria Ramos says, “Since I joined the VOICE I feel that I have a place in Mercer where I belong. I learn something new everyday from a lot of people, and get to meet people with all kind of perspectives.”
So how do we beat burnout? We’ll get back to you on that after we shove down a Wawa sandwich on the way to our second job, before we come back to campus for our night classes.