UMich Student Culture: A Personal Reflection

You know what kinda sucks?

Walking around campus and hearing “What are you doing next summer?” every five minutes and not once hearing, “How are you doing?” or “How is your family?”

During my two and a half years in Ann Arbor, I’ve been absolutely blown away by the sensational people I’ve met and the innumerable opportunities I’ve been given – but I’ve also been tremendously disappointed. I’m disappointed in the way that we treat each other at this school, and, more importantly, what we value in each other.

As students at the Top Public University In The Country, we’re especially driven people – I expected that. But what I didn’t expect was to be thrown into culture that can almost be compared to a corporate ladder; where your major and internship offers and resume bullet points are compared and stacked against those of your peers, creating an unseen hierarchy of success before we’ve even graduated, sometimes before we’ve even said hi.

And that’s how we measure success here, by what you’ve done, what you’re doing, and what you’re probably gonna end up doing because of that one thing you did in New York last summer. But why do we do that? Why do we reduce ourselves to job descriptions and head shots? Why do we analyze each other like recruiters, why do we mentally rank ourselves based on our academics and professional goals when we could all be, first and foremost, friends? 

These kids that you’re going to class with and studying in the Ugli with and doing group projects with and joining student clubs with aren’t just your colleagues or professional contacts or whatever the hell we’ve minimized our relationships to. We are one in the same – undergraduates at the best school in the world, twenty-something kids with enough cash in our pockets to buy a beer at Charley’s. Why, in these precious moments, does the rest matter?

Yes, we are smart as hell and are going on to pursue impressive careers, but when did we start placing value on titles over identities? When you graduate, don’t you wanna know who you these Michigan kids really are and not just which city they’ll be in?

Don’t invest time in people, spend time with people. Let’s stop networking and watch more movies together, let’s stop sending emails with formal headings and send more texts, hell, let’s hang out more. Without our backpacks, without the business jargon, without the lofty presumptions about where we are relative to each other on this stupid, surface-level food chain. We are all worth much more than that.

When I graduate, I don’t want to spend that day with my fellow classmates or with my advantageous business connections, I want to spend that day with my Michigan family. I want to throw my cap with my people – the kinds of people they are on the weekends, the people they will be when they snuggle into bed at night after a long day, the after-hours, no bullshit, post-business casual people. What about you? 


Images courtesy of: AdmitSee and Michigan Medicine