How to Not Be a Square Without Descending to Apathy

By Paula Dallacqua, Staff Writer

In an attempt to dismiss the pervasive culture of stress and busyness, I tell friends that seem overwhelmed with work to not be a “classic K kid”.

A “classic K kid” may look different from person to person, so let me clarify. When I transferred to K last year, I was struck by the incessant amount of movement on campus.

Naturally a slow walker, I consciously increased my pace while on the sidewalks. I kept my ID card at hand as to not keep others waiting while I searched for it in my backpack. I even began to scan the list of sauces at Stacks while the Swiss cheese melted on the wheat sub roll I had decided upon before entering line.

Thus, I define a “classic K kid” as the student who never stops moving. The “classic K kid” both provides momentum and is enmeshed within the continually spinning cycle of K time. He/she is stressed out by the culture of busyness, yet provides frantic energy that perpetuates it.

I also think, however, that the “classic K kid” is a far less common occurrence than what most people assume. It functions similarly to the boogeyman— both are myths that are spread to keep us in line. The “classic K kid” is the main character of a story told to make us wary of the overstressed, 3 shots of espresso, “I only get A’s and above” student.

But every action has a reaction, and I think the “classic K kid” has spurred a new cultural phenomenon: the “Too Cool for School” kid.

Everyone definitely knows this kid—it’s the person in class who claims to never do his/her homework, yet somehow gets the highest grade. It’s the girl who openly talks about how little effort she has put into an art project. Or the boy who boasts of never doing his reading but can still contribute to discussion because he’s just that good at picking out the important parts.

There are some authentic “Too Cool for School” kids who genuinely put forth minimal effort in school and still do well, but if we’re being honest, the majority of “Too Cool for School” kids put in just as much effort as every other person in the class.
If someone truly does not care about his/her work, he/she also probably doesn’t have the energy to advertise how little effort he/she puts into school. So why the fake apathy?

Why the need to proclaim that “I barely studied for this test” or “I haven’t done the readings at all this week”? In a school supposedly full of nerds, are you a square if you work too hard?

The desire to appear minimally concerned with academia is a result of either: a) Wanting to gain a status of ‘natural’ intelligence—in other words, wanting to seem smart without having to try, or b) Not wanting to be the “classic K kid”—out of  fear of being associated with the culture of high anxiety and constant frenetic activity, people overcompensate and try to seem like they don’t care at all.

And I get it. The College has a way of challenging how smart you thought you once were. But, as a student who openly admits to how hard I try, I guess a part of me will never fully understand the point of dismissing the work you put into school. Perhaps I am too naïve and idealistic to see beyond my perception of college, but isn’t the point of school to learn?

And who wants to deny the labor that goes into knowledge? Because in the end, aren’t the things we work hardest for the most gratifying?