The Daily Northwestern

Goodman: NU students should take an academic ‘chill pill’

Meredith Goodman, Columnist

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I love going to a school where my peers are as driven and motivated as I am. I have friends who program their own websites, start organizations and even travel to Chicago every week to mentor underprivileged students. What’s more, many of these students manage to dedicate themselves to these activities while maintaining near-perfect grade point averages.

Lately, the amount of competition and mounting anxiety on this campus over academics has been stressing me out. For the sake of everyone’s mental health, I would like to tell all NU students to take a “chill pill” and stop worrying about academics.

Every Saturday, I try to give myself a relaxing day with minimal homework. I have had very few Saturdays where I do absolutely no homework, but I try at least to relax and temporarily put my mind off the stressors of school by doing some easier assignments.

On one particular Saturday, I had friends constantly message me about their grades and their homework. One friend complained to me about his test grade in a difficult class (although he still received a near-perfect score). Other friends complained about homework for one of our classes, warning me that I needed to start on it soon.

I love these friends dearly, but being bombarded with complaints and anxiety from other people is not a good way to spend my relaxing Saturday. It made me angry that my friends would not stop talking about grades and academics, even when I clearly wanted to change the subject.

I was once obsessive and anxious over my grades. From the beginning of middle school until senior year of high school, I worried about my grades incessantly. I would cry if I did poorly on a test (although I never failed a test; doing “poorly” was getting a B). I distinctly remember many times where I had to hold back tears in class when a teacher handed me back my test and I was disappointed with my grade. It was a poor way to spend my high school years, and by senior year I was mentally exhausted.

It took me until the second half of my senior year in high school, but I finally realized that constantly stressing out about grades was tearing me apart with anxiety. I started to put things into perspective. Although I still tried my hardest at academics, I no longer cried over my grades. I prided myself on my work ethic and took pride in my grades, even on those tests where I didn’t get an A.

Now, I’m not telling NU students to completely neglect studying and forget about their grades. Grades are important, and I am still concerned about my GPA. But being concerned with your GPA doesn’t mean that you have to devote all of your energy toward it.

It is healthy to relax and not put unnecessary academic pressure on yourself. NU students, I advise you to give yourself periods of time where you don’t worry about academics, whether it be every day or even once a week. Give yourself some perspective and relaxation. Go see a movie, work out at the gym or hang out with a friend that you haven’t seen in a while.

You can work hard and make good grades while also giving yourself time to have some fun. I advise NU students to create more balance in their busy academic lives and swallow an academic “chill pill” every once in a while.

Meredith Goodman is a Weinberg junior. She can be reached at meredithgoodman2015@u.northwestern.edu. If you would like to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to opinion@dailynorthwestern.com.

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