Hey, Daily Beast, shut up
The Daily Beast thinks you need to relax, Columbia. According to its recent rankings of “The Most Stressful Schools In America,” we’re number one. I don’t know about you guys, but I definitely felt a tinge of sadistic pride when I first heard the news (don’t deny it. I heard you comparing midterm schedules last month, and I know at least a few of you are responsible for this blog).
But after singing a few bars of “Roar, Lion, Roar” to myself, it occurred to me that such a ranking might scare some of the incoming prospies who just got done with Days on Campus, so I thought a response was in order.
The truth is, I have no idea if Columbia is the most stressful school in the country (mostly because I don’t attend every other school in the country). But more importantly, I think The Daily Beast has even LESS of an idea of the relative stress levels at Columbia. A couple reasons for this.
1.) Its methodology sucks. According to the article that accompanied last year’s rankings, the website basically took a bunch of data from U.S. News and World Report (and few other sources) and rated schools according to five categories: cost, competitiveness, acceptance rate, engineering, and crime on campus. I could write an entire post on the flaws here (for one, how can you write about student stress and NOT include information about relative workload, social life, or student opinion? I mean granted, those things might be difficult to quantify, but that’s why this ranking is stupid). For now, however, I want to focus for a minute on the inclusion of the “crime on campus” category.
Our “crime” ranking is seventh, which apparently means we have the seventh most crime on campus of any American university. That may be true, but I promise you that I have never once been stressed about crime at Columbia, and I think most of my fellow students feel the same way. I remember a couple years ago there were a few muggings within a couple weeks of each other, and Fox 5 news (aka these people) showed up on campus asking students if they were scared to live in the neighborhood. I’ve never felt so proud of my fellow students as I did then, watching all of them tell the reporter that they felt perfectly safe and could she please take her loaded questions elsewhere.
2.) If you’re here, you’re probably pretty used to the whole stress thing. Yes, the workload at Columbia can be crazy intense. And yes, it’s harder than high school and might take a little adjusting to for the first semester or so (though it’s also different from high school—you work on your own schedule and you’ll probably sleep more). But what The Daily Beast seems to forget is that we’re all here because we can do the work. After all, that’s pretty much the only thing that our high school GPAs prove—our willingness and our ability to perform given a relatively tough schedule (not to mention whatever ridiculous extracurricular activities we participated in).
3.) Stress is different for every person. How stressed you are at Columbia (or anywhere else, really) depends entirely on your personality and the amount of work you decide to take on. I have a friend here who’s gone out maybe 10 times in his three years at this school—the rest of the time he spends in his dorm room writing papers three weeks before they’re due. I have another friend who goes out constantly and spends large swaths of the semester complaining that he’s bored for lack of work. The point being that people are different, classes are different, schedules are different, and there are different ways of dealing with stress. Know yourself and plan accordingly and you’ll be fine.
That’s all I’ve got, prospies. You’ve got a few months until you have to worry about all this anyway. In the meantime, enjoy the whole second-semester-senior thing. That was pretty glorious.
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