Should you quiet quit college?

Owen Peterson, Editor-in-Chief

One of the biggest social media discussions this summer was about people quiet quitting their jobs in search of better mental health. 

What started as a TikTok trend quickly got the attention of outlets such as The New York Times, Forbes and The Washington Post, with writers both championing and lambasting the concept. 

In all that discourse, however, not much attention was given to how the concept extends to students who struggle with balancing school, life and often a job as well. 

Despite what it sounds like, quiet quitting isn’t about quitting your job, but rather about setting limitations on how much you work in order to create a better work-life balance. 

Quiet quitting can entail not working overtime, not checking emails at home and not forcing yourself to do more than expected.

In the context of college, quiet quitting is quite different, as students are expected to do most  work outside of the classroom, which is why school-life balance can get so blurred. 

Quiet quitting college would entail the likes of not staying up excessively late to study, not passing up on other events/opportunities to do schoolwork and doing solely what is necessary for assignments.

On paper, quiet quitting can sound like nothing more than a reason to be lazy, but I believe it is best interpreted as a means to not allow yourself to be defined by your work to the point where it takes over your life. 

It’s not about rejecting overachieving, but about not doing so to the point where you are making sacrifices in other, more important, areas of your life. 

According to a 2020 survey done by the American Psychological Association, this generation’s young adults are the most stressed-out demographic, and schooling is only one of many stress factors (on top of learning to be independent, the omnipresence of social issues and constantly being reminded that you are on the precipice of the rest of your life), so it’s crucial to remember what is and isn’t in your control.

In class, there will always be a looming pressure to focus on assignments, but it’s important to remember that opportunities like clubs and internships can be more beneficial for meeting your career goals than spending too much time on completion-based assignments. 

This isn’t exactly a groundbreaking take, but one I think is worth repeating and is reinforced by the concept of quiet quitting.

Unfortunately, there’s not a black-and-white answer regarding just how little you should be doing or how much you should care, as it’s all about knowing your personal boundaries and operating where you are comfortable. 

Like most wellbeing issues, it’s about finding balance, as operating in extremes is seldom productive. 

I originally intended this to be a more general “advice for freshmen from a senior” piece, but the more I thought about it I realized that this is the only advice I wish to give. 

As someone who spent their first three years of college ripping themselves apart over every menial assignment to keep a 4.0, I would tell my freshman self to care a little less.

When I started freshman year, I went in meticulously planning my life around every assignment, and as a result, hardly ever left the campus for the first two years. 

Yes, it all looks good on a résumé, but that’s hardly worth semesters of passing up on all the connections and opportunities that are available on a college campus. 

At the time of writing, my senior year starts in less than a week and I haven’t even checked if any of my classes require textbooks, and frankly, I couldn’t care less.

Learning to let myself, for lack of a better term, half-ass some assignments allowed me to take on new opportunities that were fun and probably more beneficial to my future.

I know this isn’t a problem everyone has, and this isn’t a solution that will resonate with everyone who does, but I’ve met enough like-minded people in my time here to know it’s worth saying in case someone does need to hear it. 

At the risk of being trite, college is very much a marathon, and one that only gets harder to run if you refuse to pace yourself. 

In my experience, trying to devote yourself entirely to every gen-ed class and never taking time to try new things and meet new people is equivalent to refusing to drink water along the way; you’re destined to burn out.

Even if quiet quitting isn’t something that directly applies to you, my advice to freshmen stays the same: the best way to both enjoy and make the most of your time here is to take time to make sure you remember to take care of yourself.