by: Annie Jain (Princeton ’23)
Like many motivated students aspiring to do well in the United States educational system, my high school experience was rough. Within my cocoon of frantic test-taking, college prep, assignments, projects, obsessing over grades, and academic comparison in a competitive environment, I was seldom aware of the pressure cooker we were all ingredients within, under a recipe that is antithetical to the encouragement of learning and growth.
In college, an environment more inclined to foster growth and self-discovery – although not without its problems, of course – I was able to finally recognize the boiling burnout culture present in my high school. Even more shockingly, among the variety of high school experiences my newfound college friends and acquaintances relayed to me, I recognized such a culture as a common thread in many high schools across the country.
Just to see who else is having or had the same experience as me, I created a tik tok challenge assessing the presence of burnout culture in other students’ high school experiences.
Basically, this video is in the form of the “Put a finger down challenge,” in which people share their experiences, and viewers “put a finger down” for each of the experiences they can relate to. The challenge is a ubiquitous trend on tiktok, and has united members from various communities, spread awareness on several mental illnesses, and even begun conversations surrounding fun commonalities such as zodiac signs or myers-briggs personality archetypes.
TLDR: Each of what I share in this video is something that I myself experienced, and I wanted to see who else could relate.
In an unfortunately unsurprising way, the response has revealed that an overwhelming amount of high schoolers relate to these unhealthy behaviors and manifestations of workaholism that I once saw as normal. I, like many of my fellow students, still struggle with repositioning my own perfectionist, burnout mentality – a mentality that is planted in the minds of students. These behaviors are symptoms of a system that teaches students to place their personal worth in (sometimes arbitrary) metrics we call “grades.”
A question I have received repeatedly in response to this TikTok is… how one can develop healthier habits in such a harsh, unforgiving system?? So, I wanted to compile some self-care and mindset tips from Tyche academy’s co-founders, and some ways we ourselves made it through high school and continue to grow!
- Remember that your high school grades, and even what undergraduate college you attend, are not at all the biggest predictors of success. (Of course, we’re happy to help you develop a quality application at an affordable cost since we believe everyone should have a chance at these school’s resources 🙂 ). But, as can be seen here, and in numerous other studies, other – more intrinsic – qualities are a lot more important to future well-being than numbers and a brand name on a diploma. Although GPA and college can carry benefits short-term, they are not the “make or break.” They are not the most important factors that will help you get a job. What matters most is your persistence and work ethic, which can manifest through healthier habits than the behaviors I expressed in the tiktok. – Annie (Princeton ‘23)
- Be active! I’m working on this too. A lot of students feel like they don’t have enough time to commit to a good exercise routine, but something is always better than nothing! It’s not a waste even if you can’t do enough to develop rock solid abs! Even 20-30 minutes of sweating a day before your morning shower does wonders to relax your breathing and heart rate on a stressful day. When your body is happy, your mind is happy. Trust me, it’s well worth the investment. -Annie (Princeton ‘23)
- Find a healthy and cool hobby. We all need a refuge from incessant studying, but also something that makes us feel fulfilled and encourages us to grow and be creative. Something stimulating. For me, it was piano. Losing myself in the melodies was a great escape. I also enjoyed basketball and jogging. For others it could be podcasts and cleaning, reading, Netflix shows, talking to or playing games with friends, really anything! – Alex (Georgetown ‘23)
- Set aside a designated time in the day to just relax.Come on guys, scheduling in time to work on something every second of the day is not realistic. The mind needs a break in order to approach studying and assignments refreshed. If you workout for too long, your muscles get tired and work slower. It’s similar with the brain. Breaks are necessary. It’s not productive to be productive all the time. Trying to work all the time is what actually leads to procrastination and hours of scrolling through social media when you don’t mean to – you are overworking your brain and it’s looking for an escape and gets lost in it. – Alex (Georgetown ‘23)
- GPA doesn’t matter that much.Annie already kind of said this but I had to reiterate it because I definitely know some of y’all didn’t believe it the first time. In the end, it’ll be your experiences and character that jobs are looking for a lot more so than your GPA, so work on building those up in college! – LeAnn ( UChicago ‘23)
- Be active in finding things you’re interested in. A lot of people spend so much time buried in grades and earning numbers due to expectations, but end up realizing they haven’t even thought about what they want from their own life! Explore and pick a major that you like, because you will be miserable if you hate your major. Also, exploring interests is fun since you’re looking at and reading things you are actually engaged in, with a true purpose of discovering yourself! – LeAnn (UChicago ‘23)