Students study at the EMU on the UO campus in Eugene, Ore. March 2, 2019. (Madi Mather/Emerald)

The struggle is real — it’s a phrase we’ve all uttered in times of cramming for finals, having a bad hair day or eating ramen for the fifth night in a row.

But is the struggle of being in college genuinely real? Or are we just forgetting how privileged we are to be here?

It seems as if all college students do is complain about being in college. Yet it is difficult to fathom just how many people wish they could attend college but are unable to because of the financial burden or lack of time in their schedule. 

One Edward Jones study found that 83 percent of Americans say that they cannot afford a college education. This number is staggering yet understandable given how much tuition rates have risen in the 21st century alone. According to federal data, the inflation-adjusted price for undergraduate tuition, room and board rose 42 percent between 2000 and 2010. That number has only continued to increase over the past decade.

This means that the select few who are able to go to college are those who come from affluent families or those who were able to have the time and resources to obtain scholarships and financial aid.

We college students should be celebrating the opportunity we have to be here, not commiserating over some homework assignment we don’t want to do or an exam we don’t want to study for.

“I definitely think that people aren’t self-aware in terms of how privileged they are to be here,” said Hannah Murawsky, a second-year UO student.

It’s not just a myth that college students usually end up being more successful than those without a degree. On average, a college graduate with a bachelor’s degree will earn roughly 66 percent more money over the course of their life than someone with only a high school diploma.

Staying in school is worth it. You can absolutely put up with a few years of challenging academics in order to reap the benefits in the end.

However, there are a few aspects of college that should not just be written off as first world problems.

Many students who pay their own tuition have to balance rent payments, homework and a full work schedule. This leaves little to no time to focus on their own self and take a mental health day once in a while.

“For some people, they understand that it’s a privilege to be here, but they’re also struggling to do what they want to do,” said Murawsky.

Another real college struggle is that most students are learning to take care of themselves for the first time. This experimental period tests one’s physical and emotional health to the max, and you have to set your own boundaries since your parents aren’t there to do it for you.

“Most college students probably don’t take care of themselves as well as they would want to or should,” said Rio Solano, another second-year UO student.

“The freedoms that college grants you are being thrown at you all at once, and you just have to figure it out on your own.”

It is possible that many of the “struggles” college students complain about are just the results of low self-discipline. Falling behind in classes is easy to do when you choose to stay out late instead of studying, and feeling lethargic can largely be attributed to not learning to cook for yourself properly.

With the exception of those who are truly working as hard as they can to go to work and afford school on their own, the majority of the “struggles” we college students complain about will disappear as soon as we decide to grow up.

Instead of dwelling on the minor inconveniences we face each day, let’s be thankful that we even have tests to study for and goals to work towards. The struggle only becomes real when we forget those privileges.

Help us save student newsrooms

In conjunction with Save Student Newsrooms day on April 25, we launched our $3,500 campaign to provide our newsroom with some of the tools and resources needed to compete in the digital world.

We are asking for your generosity at this time to help us update our multimedia equipment.

We have not been able be purchase any multimedia equipment since 2013 and are working with lenses that are 17 years old. Unfortunately, we often rely on students using their own equipment.

Your donations will not only help Emerald Media Group produce better content, but it will also better prepare our student journalists for professional positions by giving them opportunities to use state of the art equipment.

Thank you for your continued support and commitment to the Emerald Media Group and our student journalists.