I’m writing in response to James Brennan’s column (Fun? It’ll Cost Ya 9/7/2013) published in The Michigan Daily. As a student at the University of Michigan, I spend most weeknights in the library from three in the afternoon until midnight. I find myself questioning, just as Brennan writes, “‘Is it worth it?’” Is it worth the torturous hours slaving over my computer just to feel like I will “survive” through college? In retrospection, I think that the biggest issue comes from the fact that college has become something to “survive” in the first place.
Brennan writes that college students are experiencing a “Faustian bargain.” He writes, “We might get what we want — the grades, the job or acceptance to graduate school — but lose ourselves as we do it.” The reality is that it is always a bargain: we do well in school but our mental health suffers, or we attempt to keep a balance and do not live up to the impossibly high standards for “success” in our academics. Either way, we lose. At a point, it’s not even about making the right choice anymore, but about picking the lesser of two evils.
College is no more a test of our intelligence, but a test of our endurance. Universities need to focus on challenging students by encouraging us to explore new perspectives, developing good work ethic and strengthening our independence, not testing how many days we can go without sleep or how many times we can get a C on an exam and still propel ourselves to study. In May 2016, I hope to grab my diploma knowing not only that I survived, but that I experienced my four years to the fullest both academically and personally. Today, in April 2013, this seems an unlikely outcome.