The student life vs the job life: the grass is always greener

January 24, 2017
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Ask any student nearing the end of the their degree and it won’t take them long to rattle off the reasons why they would like nothing more than to be done with essays, assignments and deadlines. Instead, they're looking forward to taking a seat at the adult table of careers, income and flashy new clothes. Student life can be intolerable and even with the end in sight, it's easy to become disillusioned when you have an idea of what you’d like to do come graduation.

But speak to any fresh full-timer, newly minted with their expensive graduation parchment and academic gown bill. They will speak of the joyous undergraduate bliss they pine for as they rise at ungodly hours to travel to an arbitrary place an hour commute from their home to perform tasks for a manager they don’t like for a company whose name they forgot.

It seems like the youth of today can’t win. But the point still stands. Whether it is the student life or the job life, the grass is always greener. The three classic scenarios where this struggle rings true are time, energy and money – read on to prepare yourself for the time when you have to pack up your pencils and books and embrace death and taxes.


At university, your timetable is set, but your free time is not. You have the liberty to construct a daily routine at will, allowing for unforeseeable breaks in play for when you want to organise a coffee catch up or devote time and energy into your studies.

At work, the best you can hope for is 30 minutes or an hour in the middle of the day to throw down as much food and coffee as needed for you to get through the remaining five to eight hours of the day. After this, its back to the desk/workbench for what can only be described as an afternoon of hating yourself, both for your overly full stomach and for your life choices.

Also note that the days of scheduling any sort of appointment in the middle of the day are all but gone. You’ll instead have to tussle with your boss for an extra hour off to organise a visit to the doctor, dentist, hairdresser, bank, or real estate agent, and even then you’ll be pushing it. All is not what it seems folks.


It’s a well known fact that at uni, your optimum wake up time is around 9-11am, which allows you to maximise sleep and cut your meals down to two-a-day brunch/dinner combo. Depending on your mood and recent activities, you can tailor-make a daily schedule where you can recharge your batteries and iron out all the creases from the week’s activities.

Having a job requires your undivided attention for the vast majority of your day. Sure, you may finish work at 5pm and have the whole night for fun and activities and hobbies, but the reality is that the best of your daily energy has been poured into this job between the hours of 10am and 3pm. The rest of the day is spent catching up, with your body’s circadian rhythms hating on you for disturbing them before the sun even bothered to shine.


Student life is a poor life, and it is often the students’ lament that there is never enough money coming through the door to do anything. We are stymied by our education, forced into classrooms that seem ambiguous and unnecessary for our future earning potential. It’s a frustrating few years of somewhere between unemployment and purgatory.

So surely the biggest perk of full time employment is the reality of a regular paycheck. Money in the sky rocket to fulfil all your needs on a month to month basis, as well as the life-defining ability to afford what you want, is one of the areas students look forlornly to the working world and itch their feet to join.

But don’t be fooled by the glitz and glamour; money in the bank means money out the bank in the form of rent, bills, car repayments, petrol, food; all the things you probably had to pay for at uni, but on a larger scale. What’s worse, you spend a week working hard only to let loose on the weekend to forgot all your woes, which can put a huge dent in your wallet if you’re not careful.

So the terrible triad of time, energy, and money will come to haunt you when you start work. Freedom from uni in the form of full-time work is the end game; its going to happen anyway, and for a long time. So without being melodramatic, your time at uni is finite and should be enjoyed to the limit.

Rory Marples

Rory is studying a Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery at the University of Notre Dame.

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