A discussion about mental health at Georgia Tech

Is all this stress and pressure really worth it?

Typical day at Tech

The issue of mental health at GT is one that has touched every one of the students here. Whether through personal experience or contact with friends, people here know the significant issues with stress and depression. While mental health is always an issue on college campuses, Georgia Tech has worse problems due to the intensity of the workload and difficulty of the classes. It also isn’t exactly the most encouraging place to be either.

The common narrative for students here is as follows: they arrive from high school with their high intelligence and 4.0 GPAs, ready to learn and impress everyone. And then reality ensues. They start failing their classes, the test results start coming back in and are simply shocking. Their confidence is destroyed. A friend of mine told me, “I feel dumb and stupid.”

This pattern of failure forces the student to either buckle down and sacrifice social lives or risk dropping out. The experience at Georgia Tech quickly becomes miserable, turning into a seemingly endless grind of assignments and studying. And free time quickly evaporates into…well, nothing. And then the student graduates and gets a good job.

Typical look at Tech

This destruction of a person’s identity and confidence is considered a hallmark of the Tech experience. People seem to take a perverse sense of satisfaction in being crushed and humiliated. It certainly seems to help make a person more employable – companies love to hire Tech grads. And Tech grads apparently go on to great success in academia, industry, and entrepreneurship.

But is it worth the cost of tuition, and being miserable for four to six years? Is it, in the words of one friend, “Actually worth it?” This is a question worth asking because it points out some important flaws here – things that quite frankly ought to be changed.

Georgia Tech has a reputation for academic excellence and rigor. A person can get a world-class education in a STEM field of their choosing. A person can learn so much and be exposed to the state-of-the-art in their field. This is something that sounds enticing, but the academic standards at Tech are often ridiculously high.

Want more proof, ask any engineering major here about their workload. Such high standards can often cause otherwise bright students to feel stupid and lose confidence in their ability to learn. Is that worth thousands of dollars and the stress and misery? Quite frankly, I don’t think it is. One could learn a comparable amount at a university like UGA or GSU and have a much less miserable time – not to mention saving quite a bit of money in the process.


“Ah true,”the typical Tech student would say, “but what about the employment prospects?” True, they might not be as high, but they’re still out there. STEM fields are in hot demand right now and graduates from any university in these fields have a better shot at landing jobs.

In fact, what leads to success in the real world after college isn’t the name on that shiny new diploma frame or the amount of debt or the amount of misery and pain endured. It’s you that leads to success, and it’s the traits of perseverance, assertiveness, and self-confidence that lead to such success. And while Tech grads have perseverance, they may be lacking in the other two areas. Tech teaches you to endure, yes, but Tech doesn’t teach you to believe in yourself and to be assertive.

So then what should Tech do? The answer, in my opinion, is to reduce academic standards and create a more hospitable environment for undergrads to learn and work in. To empower the students, not bring them down. Doing so will solve a lot of mental health problems here and make life better for a lot of people.

Georgia Tech