The culture of “getting out”

Photo by Casey Gomez

I Got In. And I cannot wait to get out.

“#IGotIn.” The first of the traditions you come to know and love from Georgia Tech. Scouring through the hashtag you find students just like you that are soon going to make up the new freshmen class of Tech. 

It starts immediately after committing: you find digital friends, future roommates and begin looking into student organizations to join. (Hi, popping in to say you should join the Technique if you are one of these students and are reading this).

The honeymoon phase of the “I Got In” sentiment ends quickly after traditions night. The stress and workload begin to pile up, and without realizing it, you think for the first time “I can’t wait to say, ‘I got out.’” Going home for break is both a blessing and a curse, the relaxation and recharging that are way overdue is the most blissful feeling. However, meeting with friends who went to other schools turns out to be a challenge. 

I went home for Thanksgiving break and met up with my group from high school. They shared stories about the lifestyle changes, the parties, the late nights and all the fun they were having. While a friend and I who go to more rigorous schools grimaced in the corner bonding over the impossible workload, tests designed to fail you, imposter syndrome and how many times we wanted to drop out already. It hit me at that moment that Tech is not the normal collegiate experience. Most people here just want to graduate and never look back. 

The desire to “get out” is prevalent in many standard aspects of a Tech education. Students jump at the opportunity to take courses at community colleges. They are constantly searching for internships and co-ops in order to get a break from Tech. Many people are just pursuing a built in escape program known as studying abroad. Then the final goal is graduating and pursuing careers in other cities and states.

This is not to say that there are not people that enjoy their time at Tech, because a lot do. But, when it comes down to it, many at Tech are only interested in the destination: a good job and a hefty paycheck as severance from the stress of the programs here. 

I can appreciate Tech and all that it has to offer. I have some amazing friends who make struggling together a little less painful. Some great organizations are a good distraction from the day to day hustle of courses. But at the end of the day, there are some changes that could be made in search of a healthier and happier environment. It begins with the faculty. Weed out courses are a necessary evil, but overworking students to a point of no return is not the way to do it. 

Many times, it feels as if students are forced to make decisions between mental and physical well-being and academic success. Tech offers academic resources for students struggling with their courses but often times these resources such as office hours can make students feel inadequate and guilty for asking questions which result in students not returning when they need it most. 

However, I would be remiss to not mention the student culture. Students breed the stress culture at Tech, it is the quickest way to fit in with the masses. It is a toxic cycle of feeling stressed out, putting that stress into the world via Reddit or the GT Memes Facebook page, stressing others out. This is not healthy; it does not breed a growth mindset or a culture of success.

I like Tech; what it has to offer students academically is unmatched and the job potential is incredible. For Tech to really “Create the Next” there needs to be a continual development of the support system for academics beyond what is currently offered (more 1-on-1 tutoring, less formal office hours, etc.) and pushing for deeper involvement in the non-technical extracurriculars is vital to produce a well-rounded student body who wants to return and make donations to their alma mater. 

I like Tech, but I do not love it. And I hope that one day maybe I will. In the meantime, I will be dreaming of the day I get to say with pride “I got out!”