Finals time brings to light a social quirk many Hillsdale students seem to possess. Throughout the academic year, and most obviously during finals, students identify and take pride in how busy they are.
Take a stroll through AJ’s at 11 p.m. and eerily similar conversations can be heard from booth to booth. One student will begin conversation with a sigh, saying they had a paper, a presentation, and an exam all this week. The other student will respond they had two papers, a mock-trial event, and a Jackson rough draft to boot. It mirrors how old men exchange fish stories, with the fish getting bigger with each fisherman you encounter.
Hillsdale students should take pride in the rigorous academic institution they attend. Most students know the academic rigor rating of our school competes with and beats many Ivy League universities. Perhaps that’s the point: Why are students bragging and complaining about how busy they are when we all share the same hectic experience?
Students who find themselves playing verbal poker with their classmates about their hectic homework should realize they are a playing a game where every player basically has the same cards. A student who tries to up the ante by claiming they have another paper or several more hours of reading should realize it is all for nought.
A student’s braggadocious and prideful comments about their hectic schedule will almost always fall on deaf ears for two reasons.
First, each student has their own set of assignments, extracurriculars, and personal problems to deal with as well. They will obviously be more concerned with these. Secondly, the pride in an overbooked schedule is unwarranted. There are roughly 1,400 other students who share the same experience.
Strolling through the first floor of the library — the “talkative” floor — one hears terminology similar to that used by soldiers going through bootcamp. Students lean over their classmates’ computers saying how they are: “surviving,” “hanging in there,” or “just trying to make it until Christmas.”
For a school that was ranked the 16th college in the country for the happiest students, these comments of dread seem out of place. That is because the motivation behind these phrases is not impassioned venting, but rather projection of an image of the student as an exceptional workaholic amongst other workaholics.
Complaining is to be expected, but looking down on others or growing an ego based on another student’s schedule is unnecessary.
Student culture would benefit if this unwarranted, prideful behavior was replaced by sympathy. Instead of attempting to one-up a classmate, acknowledging their stress and offering to help or celebrate with them will provide a mutual benefit for both parties.
Hillsdale College should take pride in the beautiful struggle that comes with academic rigor, but students should be ashamed of the social culture they’ve fostered in an attempt to stand out as the most stressed and busy members of one of the most rigorous colleges in the country.