To put it bluntly: sometimes, college sucks. We're just now back from break and I'm already ready for the next one.

Wait, do we even have one left?

I'm certain that amid the never-ending classes, assignments and stressful late nights spent at the library or at a computer lab, many of us wonder whether the ends justify the means. At times it's hard to say whether a college education is worth the time, effort or money.

Especially the money.

As tuition costs across the nation steadily increase, higher education becomes more and more inaccessible. Yet, the college degree remains a prerequisite for a plethora of occupations. It's a vicious cycle, a ball of confusion.

However, we all know the factoids — you're about twice as likely to get a job with a bachelor's degree than without one; and the higher the order of degree you possess, the larger your paycheck will be. 

Of course there's that small portion of the population who manage to make a comfortable or even luxurious living without a degree — those lucky few, the Ke$has, Jay Zs, and Steve Jobs of the world.

But no one can depend on that slim possibility.

It never hurts to wonder, though — the college environment is a stressful and competitive one, after all. I don't blame anyone — myself included — for dreaming of becoming the next successful college dropout.

I know you all secretly wish to be the next, slightly saner, Kanye West. Don't play.

It takes incredible balancing skills to keep all of the aspects of a college student's life steady. And many of us, in an impossible quest for academic perfection, let our health — both mental and physical — deteriorate.

It takes an intelligent and hard-working individual to achieve a high GPA, but it takes just as much intelligence and dedication to remember one's worth is not dependent on their GPA.

So, as the end of midterms season begins to blend into the horrendous beginning of finals season, I implore everyone to keep calm and stay cool.

Or not.

Because for all of that mumbo jumbo about latent self worth and mental health and stability, we still care about our grades, right?

I said it before and I'll say it again: We ain't here for free.

And sometimes, in the midst of all the end-of-year anxiety, you just can't calm down. Sometimes, the only way to deal with stress is to power through it.

Now, I don't mean "powering through" in the traditional sense. I mean we should challenge our stress, overpower our anxieties, and rise above it all.

Doesn't that just sound great?

Sarcasm aside, I feel it's immensely important to be assertive in the maintenance of one's mental health, especially in today's world.

Whether you're as calm as a cucumber or like one unnamed friend of mine hysterically running around her dorm in UT orange onesie pajamas — please don't hurt me, unnamed friend — stay healthy.

Don't forget to do whatever it is that keeps you happy and sane, even if it feels like you might not have the time.

Read. Jog. Sing. Have a dorm room dance party with your roommates. Write an aggressively-worded letter to your professors (Read: Do. Not. Send.).

Do whatever it is you've got to do — and remember, only six weeks left!

Best of luck, everyone.

Andrea Richardson is a sophomore in anthropology. She can be reached at aricha43@utk.edu.