It’s Okay to “Underachieve”

A wave of panic and shock comes across a fellow student’s face when I tell them I’m only taking 12 credits this semester. The most common reactions I get are along the lines of this: “But what about rush?” “Aren’t you worried about studying abroad?” “How are you going to graduate on time?” The thing is, this is literally my first semester of freshman year.

For some reason, there is this insane pressure and expectation that from the start of our Tulane careers, we should be taking as many as 17 and at the very least 14 credit hours. In fact, when I selected my classes over the summer, I was  heavily encouraged to register for 17 credits, so I did. The reason advisors suggest enrolling in so many classes is so you have room to drop a course in case you’re unhappy with it. Still, when I dropped a Statistics class, despite knowing that I’d be lucky to end up with a C in it if I stayed, I felt such a sense of failure; I seemed to be taking significantly fewer credits compared to everyone else.

From such an early age, many of us are taught to be overachievers and to push ourselves to the limit, especially when it comes to challenging ourselves in school. We are told that no prestigious college will accept us if we don’t take enough AP classes, or if we aren’t the president of four different clubs. But now we’ve finally made it; we’re in college! So why is the pressure to over-perform still overwhelmingly present?

I find it unnecessary to already be racing to take the maximum amount of credits in the very first semester. Especially since most of the people I know that are doing so have no plans to graduate early. On top of that, many of us also came to Tulane with AP credits that should actually lighten our workload when we enroll in our first semester of college. The transition from high school to college should be challenging enough for us, considering the majority of students at Tulane have traveled far from home to go here.

My hope is that we can learn not to give in to those worries and instead do what is best for us, and truly enjoy and appreciate the four years we have here!

Cover Photo: Sabrina Messite

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