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School on full speed: Students shouldn’t purchase productivity

opinions-logo-150x150As midterm season steadily approaches, many Dalhousie students will find themselves overwhelmed by heavy workloads and the stress associated with time management.  Often, students argue that their professors are all assigning due dates and exams at the same times, causing unmanageable swells of work throughout a term. As frustrating as this has always been, it is not a new pattern. Knowing this, students should be keeping on top of assigned readings and class notes in preparation for the onslaught of deadlines.

But how can we be expected to manage time properly when we are part of a generation fixated on social networking, technology, and media? These aspects of our lives leave us procrastinating until the stress of deadlines forces us to miraculously sit down and complete mass amounts of work the night before exams and due dates.

These habits are extremely common among students, and this has contributed to a culture of study drug abuse. This gives students the ability to take medication and instantly be able to focus for large amounts of time. Students are purchasing prescription medication off of their peers who have been properly diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). These medications, most notably Concerta, Adderall or Ritalin, can have similar positive effects on prolonged attention span. Students who are not diagnosed and are using the drugs for occasional academic productivity have been said to focus for up to eight to 10 hours with little distraction. On top of the side effects of increased ability to focus, these medications also allow students to stay awake much longer, and lose their appetites.

So why don’t we all use these medications? There are obvious health concerns and risks associated with taking prescription drugs you haven’t been prescribed, but aren’t there also academic ramifications associated with the use of study drugs? Students with learning disabilities are given extra time, just as students with ADD/ADHD are given the proper medications. Therefore, students who have no attention disorders, but are still benefitting from the illegal use of prescription drugs, are getting an untraceable academic advantage. The sale of prescription drugs is illegal, but Dal does not presently have policies in place restricting the use of study drugs without proper diagnoses of an attention disorder.

Can the academic pressure felt by students justify the abuse of these drugs? Or is the increased use in these drugs a result of a generation consumed by technological distractions? Students who have purchased prescription drugs from their friends feel secure in procrastinating and feeling the instant gratification of being able to complete assignments or study for exams the day before. Our lives are full of constant distractions, leaving many of us with less and less ability to force ourselves to focus.

Unfortunately we cannot look to our academic institution to make the proper changes and meet the needs of our highly distractible generation when it has operated the same way for many years. At the same time, the answer must not be resorting to the abuse of prescription medication for academic purposes.

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