More [Stress] in Four

By Allison Tinsey, Editor-in-Chief

Over 2 years ago, during my first-year spring, I remember a presentation given by the Office of Communications on the re-branding of the College. The new sales pitch, the new slogan, the new battle cry of Kalamazoo College to be spread across the world: Our students do more in four years, so that they can do more in a lifetime.

“Sure, this is true,” I remember thinking to myself. As a first year, I had already explored my academic freedom with the K-Plan. I joined sundry groups and organizations. I had friends of all backgrounds, interests, and majors. I was beginning to think critically about the world around me. But I was also becoming critical of the College: the institution that would one day spit me out into that world that it worked so hard to make me vigilant of.

My greatest concern was not that I wasn’t getting the education or experience that I was paying for or longed for since I submitted my application to Admissions. Instead, my concern then, and now, is if I am taking advantage of all the opportunities that that K offers me.

However, as a senior I am leery of  “more in four.” and its implications for our overall health and success as students. We are a rare breed of college students. We are called to be responsible for our education, designing it to develop depth and breadth. We are called to be community leaders, world travelers, role models, and social justice advocates. We love to express our individualism as well as our solidarity. We are creative problem solvers. We ask the right questions. We are presented with many challenges and challenge them right back.

We meet these challenges with enthusiasm, but all too often, that enthusiasm dwindles and turns to resentment.

I’m sick of playing the “I’m more stressed than you!” game, but I want to paint a small picture of my life as a student and the praxis of “more in four.” I’ve held two student leadership positions: RA and Peer Leader. I studied abroad in Budapest, Hungary. I’ve mainly studied the humanities, but dabbled in Cognitive Science. I’m writing my SIP in Philosophy. I feel like I speak a new language of change, progress, and justice. I have honed my skills as a writer and critical thinker.

But, I dropped a class last week, which meant that I had to drop my minor. I work 20 unpaid hours a week for the Index. I have two on-campus jobs. I visit the Counseling Center once a week. I make time for my friends and family. I like to party. I live with chronic back pain. I would like to know what I’m doing after college, but I don’t. I average eight hours of sleep per night. I hate K. I love K.

I chose this life as a student as I chose to come to K and I have not regretted it for a second. But I do believe that doing “more in four” carries a stigma that if we are not doing “more in four,” then we’re doing it wrong. But how dare we sacrifice our passions, our health, or our relationships in order to feel like we haven’t done enough. We have the honor and the burden of being Kalamazoo College students. To not change the world is not an option, but to die trying – that’s Kalamazoo College.