Bernardo Chuecos didn’t realize the high stakes of attending one of the top universities in the country until he experienced constant pressure to achieve at the level expected by UT. He isn’t the only student to feel this way.
Many students at UT take on multiple responsibilities in addition to their academics to set themselves apart from other multifaceted students. From excelling in academics to joining multiple organizations, internships and jobs, the pressure to do more can be overwhelming for students.
Chuecos, a computer science junior, said in a tweet in March 2019 that UT students are overachievers and tend to take on numerous responsibilities at one time.
“UT students really are extra … like I never hear my friends from other schools stress over internships, research experience and (organizations) the way we do like maybe we are doing a little too much,” Chuecos said in the tweet. “Putting all of Texas’ overachievers within these 40 acres was a mistake.”
Government junior Tanner Scheef said she believes the tweet was a very accurate statement.
“I don’t think I’ve met anyone at UT who isn’t involved in an org or a spirit group or doing research or an internship,” Scheef said. “I have so many friends at other schools who are just doing school.”
At UT, Scheef said, there is pressure to be involved in more due to the campus’ competitive atmosphere.
“(In high school it was) ‘What am I going to put on my resume to get into UT?,’” Scheef said. “Now it’s ‘What am I going to put on my resume to get a job?’”
The pressure to excel for many students comes from indirect factors such as peers and future career opportunities.
“Part of it comes from our generation because we have a more competitive job market, and we have to do more than just graduate in order to get normal opportunities,” Chuecos said. “Now you have to graduate with job experience.”
Like many other students, computer science junior Marquis Ware is balancing academics and extracurricular activities while interning at Microsoft to gain professional experience.
“I definitely feel (pressure to be an overachiever),” Ware said. “Especially being black, you represent something that’s bigger than yourself.”
Scheef said the influence to consistently maintain a full schedule can be overwhelming and affects her mental health.
“My depression got really, really bad because I felt so much pressure to be a certain way, to be in so many groups and make certain grades,” Scheef said.
Ware said due to stress, he had to seek help from the UT Counseling and Mental Health Center and focus on developing healthier habits to deal with his stress.
“One or two days during the week, I have ‘me time’ (where I do) something that I completely love,” Ware said.
Ware said the important thing about being an overachiever is to not compare oneself to others.
“Your life is your race. You have to run your own race, stay in your own lane,” Ware said. “Success is different to everyone.”
While the pressure to overachieve can be draining to UT students, Ware believes it puts them in a position to exceed expectations.
“I’ve seen a trend with a lot of people (at UT) doing successful things,” Ware said. “We’re always struggling, we’re always stressed out, but pressure makes diamonds.”