Tech is a hard school. This fact is obvious to anyone who goes here, but as an older sibling with a high school senior for a brother, I ﬁnd myself reiterating this fact more than once a week, just to be sure that he is forewarned before
he shows up here in the fall.
For example, we students here at Tech have been enjoying our education for two weeks already at this point. My friends at UGA have been at school for a week and two days, at GCSU for merely a week, and in a truly ironic twist of fate, a good friend of mine at UT Austin still has not started back.
Of course, one can make the argument that by starting our semester earlier, we will get to end earlier as well, but anyone who knows Tech knows that this system is not designed to allow us more summer vacation. Instead, it was designed to give Tech the opportunity to cram one more full semester into the year. Bizarrely, at a school full of math geniuses no one seems to have realized that the entire point of the semester system is to have two terms per year, but as a student who has more than once taken advantage of summer classes, I can’t really complain.
In fact, I would say that the general level of diﬃculty at Tech can be summed up in one facial expression. Since getting home from Spain, I have gotten coﬀee/dinner/drinks with roughly the entire student body, or at least so reads my checking account balance. Inevitably they ask about my fall, I respond with polite but quick descriptions ranging from “Spain is fabulous,” to “Spain was amazing,” and then return the question: “How was your fall/summer/past eight months of your life?”
Then it happens. Hands get shoved into pockets, mouths squirm shut, eyebrows raise and a deep guttural sound that is a combination of a pained moan and a sigh of resignation escapes from the lips of whatever poor soul is about to recount why Tech, last semester, the summer before and every other semester known to man, was “rough” or “hard” or, in classic understatement “not great.” In the worst of cases, no response is given—it’s just a slow eye roll, a tilt of the head and a quick jump to another topic.
Inevitably, once you probe these less-than-enthusiastic students you ﬁnd out that many fabulous things happened to them during the fall term at Tech, but all of that is overshadowed by the inevitable list of complaints. The grades are low, you never get to sleep, the construction kept you up all morning (since the only time available for sleep in most of our lives being the silent hours between ﬁve and 10 a.m.) and of course, if you are male, there were no girls around to make it all worthwhile.
Tech is hard. More is expected of you here, and in the short run, it may seem like less is given back to its students. To quote a friend, “academically, it’s hard, socially it’s hard, but at least this year the football was good.”
That is the point though. Tech’s diﬃculty in the short term pays oﬀ with better rewards in the long run. You get beneﬁts like an amazing football team (no, I can’t explain why that is at all connected to workload, but work with me here), great research and internship opportunities and hopefully a better job when you get out, assuming you ever do.
As a recently returned student who now avoids asking her friends how their falls were, I still have to recommend Tech to my little brother.
Plus, during his ﬁrst summer as a real employee after however many years it takes him to get out, maybe he can use his few extra weeks after graduation to do something fun…like take a nap.