Four years of a problematic status quo

Photo by Casey Gomez

As my time at Tech comes to a close, I find myself wondering more and more if I will miss the experience once I am gone. I have certainly enjoyed my time with all the involvements I have at Tech, including the marching band, the Student Government Association, being a teaching assistant and, of course, the Technique. However, my time at Tech has been one of the most stressful times in my life, which has put a damper on the whole experience. 

This lingering concern about whether I will look back at my college days fondly has me worried about the culture of our campus. When I compare the amount of work I have done with my friends at other schools, I have consistently found that I have more to do over a shorter period of time. The amount of work I have had to do for a three-credit class has varied between a low weekly commitment and a requirement of constant dedication to the class in order to succeed. 

Part of the concern I have with this amount of work is that it begins to cut into time that students could use to de-stress, including involving themselves in extracurricular activities. As I have approached the end of my degree, I have found myself having to limit the amount of extracurriculars I have been involved in despite the fact that I am taking fewer credit hours than either of my semesters last year. 

I will forever be grateful for my involvements on campus, as they have been the highlight of my experiences. I have gained invaluable insight into campus events and had the opportunity to work on a publication despite being a Computer Science major through the Technique. I have given back to the campus through my involvement in SGA as a member of their IT Board, connecting students to technology solutions on campus. I have had the opportunity to be part of a century-old tradition as a member of the marching band. And, not least of all, I have had the unique experience to interact with several students as a teaching assistant. 

What about students who have not had the opportunity to be involved on campus? How will they look back on their days at Tech? Will their impression just be of the hard work, of the sometimes-unfair classes or of the intense stress Tech puts on its students? I seriously doubt that students who lack these experiences will be able to look back fondly at their time at Tech, which is a serious problem. 

Tech needs to make a commitment to improving the culture on their campus. Not every student can be involved in extracurriculars to improve their college experience. The current attitude of back-breaking work as a sign of pride is inherently problematic and unnecessarily stressful. We do not need to decrease the quality of the school to change this; hard work is not necessarily bad. The expectation that students should just accept the work and just push forward is the real problem. 

I hope that the community will eventually improve the culture so that students don’t need to be involved on campus to have a positive experience. Every student would benefit from having a stronger idea of what exactly one credit hour entails in terms of work. Students deserve better than having to stress constantly about the work that they are doing and certainly deserve to at least have some sympathy instead of being expected to grin and bear it. 

If there is one piece of advice I would leave to incoming students, it would be to get involved on campus. It will vastly improve your experience and give you something to look back on fondly when you think of your time at Tech. Hopefully, then, Tech will become a place that you graduated from instead of “got out” of. Tech has to change. We do not have to be a back-breaking college to be a top collegiate institution, and it is past time that we stopped believing that this is true.