Coffee Makes the Student’s World Go ‘Round

By Elizabeth Kelly

As college students, we acquire this impressive ability to accomplish large tasks in very little time and on very little sleep.  Let’s face it—college is all about taking five hours to complete a task that should only take one hour and taking only 30 minutes to complete a project that should have taken a few days.  There are a few key elements that make this poor time-management strategy manageable: the most important being coffee.

Whether it’s four shots of espresso or the largest size of the strongest brew, coffee is what facilitates those all-nighters and 12-hour-long study sessions.  The caffeine in coffee is a stimulant to the central nervous system and can improve mental performance and concentration (Pietrangelo). If a student buys coffee every day, the math comes out to roughly $120 per month, $480 per semester, and $960 per academic year. You could be spending even more if you’re buying  those venti, extra-hot, no whip, and triple stirred cups of brain stimulant from Starbucks.  For some people coffee may be a luxury, but, for students who have more work to do than there are hours in a day, coffee is really more of a necessity.

Coffee is great for tolerating those 8 am classes, but another staple of a college student’s study habits is the copious amount of snacks that are consumed alongside those fancy caffeinated beverages.  Healthy snacks such as spinach, figs, and sunflower seeds can be a great option for a boost in brain power.  However, few students can afford these expensive healthy snacks, especially when all of that money goes towards coffee drinks—not to mention that no one wants to eat green leaves for a snack.  As a result, most students settle for the $0.99 bag of potato chips, Finding Dory fruit snacks, or even a package of ramen that can be bought for a quarter.  These snacks often have high levels of sodium and even higher levels of sugar.  Between the sugary snacks and the sugary caffeinated drinks, a mental crash is almost inevitable.  One can only hope that the crash comes after that 12-page essay on the philosophy of some important historical figure is finished.

Many students swear by their snacking and caffeine habits as contributors to their success, but there are definitely ways to make these habits more healthy, cost effective, and helpful for studying. In terms of buying coffee, brewing coffee at home and adding a touch of milk is much more cost effective than those $5 sugared ones bought on campus.  However, it is virtually impossible to make those complicated 5-pump mocha lattes at home, so if buying coffee is necessary, go with a smaller size and sugar free sweetener (if you’re into that sort of thing). That can help you avoid the crash that comes after the surge in brain power.

When reaching for a study snack, consider grabbing something that may be slightly more nutrient-dense and lower in artificial sugars, such as a granola bar or a whole piece of fruit. These snacks are still more cost effective than those kale salads or fancy dried fruits and nuts, all while providing more nutrients than a bag of cheese balls or some leftover pizza. Eating slightly healthier snacks will also be more beneficial in boosting your energy and concentration levels while studying!

In reality, coffee and snacks are what help a college student make it through a long day of brutal exams and endless essay writing.  With a little modification, and in moderation, both snacks and coffee can be extremely beneficial to college students and their study habits.

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