While college graduates make significantly more money than high school graduates — 56 percent more, on average — they also experience far more health issues.
Since 1966, the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA has conducted an annual college freshman survey: For the first time, its 2016 report stated less than half of students think that their mental health is above average compared to their peers. Furthermore, a record high of freshmen entering college in 2016 reported mental health issues — 11.9 percent of the incoming class said they have “frequently” felt depressed in the past year.
Another study conducted at one U.S. college indicated that 34 percent of the student population abused prescription drugs to help with cognition and concentration during periods of academic stress.
With all of this in mind, institutions and academics alike are looking for solutions to lessen students’ health issues. Navigating the college and grad school years doesn’t have to leave you desperate to improve your mental health and performance. Here are three possible solutions to lighten your workload and turn college and grad school from hellish to happy:
1. Outsource where you can. Capstones and graduate studies continue to demand more and more of students; even the most organized will see their hair turning gray from stress. And it doesn’t take much to take away from your excitement (and ability) to think and create. Keeping up with all the other aspects of research studies like budgeting, setting up meetings, finding volunteers for interviews or focus groups, finding venues to conduct the interviews, and answering the phone are only a few of the tasks you’re stuck with before you can dive into a project. Luckily for students, outsourcing isn’t an uncommon trend. An average of 300,000 positions are outsourced every year — so you have a wealth of talent to choose from.
But why should you outsource your busywork? When students outsource people to work for them, they have much more freedom. You don’t have to do mundane, mindless tasks — you can work on a project, not in it. Much like a restaurateur, are you more valuable running the business or working the grill?
When outsourcing, consider services like Fiverr, Freelancer.com, and Elance: They can connect you with professionals worldwide who are willing to complete the more menial tasks of your capstone project or your graduate thesis faster and for a small dent in your wallet.
2. Contract out your initial research. Once you find your jumping-off point for your research, the next step is diving in. Both daunting and time-consuming, initial fieldwork brings out the procrastinator in even the most persistent student.
One of our clients who works at The City University of New York said that she’s seen situations where research staff or interns are tasked with manually subscribing audio files or cleaning up existing transcripts that have inaccuracies or are missing segments of the text from “inaudible” parts. These tasks cost time and money, which academics and researchers have very little of.
Luckily, there are academic transcription services — like Transcription Outsourcing and other transcription services that cater to academia — that can complete transcripts for you faster and for a lower fee than you’d expect. This allows you to focus on the important work rather than the tedious tasks that go along with projects.
3. Leave visual design to the professionals. Design is often an overlooked element in research presentation, but given the fact that 65 percent of the world learns visually, it’s time to give it some well-deserved attention. Instead of worrying over alignment and font choice, utilize the skills of experts. Companies like 99designs, Guru, and DesignCrowd all have creatives available to professionally design your research. Now you can use the time you would’ve used going back and forth on a color scheme to rehearse your presentation.
So the question is: How will this outsourcing help with academic pursuits? Some might argue it would deter the learning process, as it is essentially paying for your homework to be done for you. But you should remember that these tasks that can be outsourced are just the base work; the ideation and creation is completed by you, the student.
The philosophical arguments against outsourcing — especially as a student — are many, but the benefits are fairly straightforward: Outsourcing lets you skip the time-consuming, undesirable tasks so you have time to do more important or enjoyable things. Outsourcing is also more efficient: Aren’t we all better off concentrating on the things we do best instead of getting bogged down with menial tasks?
While you aren’t seeking out a personal servant, you are embracing the skills of others to create your best possible work. After the trial periods of grade school sports and the “old college try” have come and gone, it’s best to stick with what you know. The higher the education level, the greater the stakes for presenting your best possible work. Set your pride aside. Allow others to help you complete your best work, and sit back and enjoy your improved health — and the results.
Ben Walker is CEO of Transcription Outsourcing, which provides user-friendly, high-quality, and cost-effective transcription services to organizations all over the U.S. It specializes in the academic, medical, legal, law enforcement, financial, and general business industries. A resident of Denver, Colorado, Ben enjoys tennis, hiking, and watching college football.