Is constant stress and overbooking worth it?

Students who ‘do it all’ aren’t always able to create balance


Photo provided by Emily Chang

PERFECTING THE PRACTICE. Sophomore Emily Chang hits the gold ball out of a sand trap during a tournament. Emily also participates in internships through the University of Chicago.

Audrey Matzke, Assistant Editor

Before classes, during lunch and in the car ride home, Emily Chang is constantly doing homework. For some, these habits would free up time for Netflix and socializing, but not for Emily.

With service, golf practice and three internships, she can barely find time for sleep.

As one would expect, Emily strongly values her future. However, through sleepless nights and early mornings, she fights to keep her passion separate from college aspiration — a struggle familiar to many U-High students.

Instead of easing into weekday mornings, setting multiple alarms and rolling out of bed at the last possible second, Emily wastes no time. Her day begins at 6:30 a.m., with a workout designed to keep young golfers in top physical shape. At 7:30, she leaves for school.

Emily’s schedule got busier during her freshman year, a year in which some U-High students struggle to balance passion and emerging college ambitions. To freshman Annika Ludwig, this struggle is all-too familiar.

With piano lessons, Model UN and tennis practice, sleep was the first casualty of Annika’s busy schedule. Then came the stress.

“I’ve definitely freaked out,” Annika said as she described the night before a MUN event. “I had so much going on for school, too.”

Though she hopes her dedication will pay off when applying to colleges, not all her activities serve this purpose. For Annika, piano is an enjoyable, relaxing pastime, not a bullet point on her résumé.

“Piano makes me happy,” Annika said. “It’s a good stress reliever.”

To Title IX Coordinator Elizabeth Noel, the late nights and busy schedules are a familiar, yet distant, memory. Ms. Noel, who earned her bachelor’s degree at Yale, said she’s always been an overachiever, especially in high school.

Now, as an adult, she is sympathetic to the inadequacy felt by many U-High students, as well as the guilt they experience when wondering if they use their resources to their full potential.

“Living in the shadow of the university comes with a heavy burden,” Ms. Noel said, referring to Lab’s proximity to the University of Chicago.

For some, the university’s shadow is a source of opportunity. Emily holds internships in business, law and chemistry through the University of Chicago, each meeting three times per week. Though she finds these internships enjoyable, she deeply values her academic future.

“My internships give me experience, she said. “They’re fun, and they help give me a glance into my potential future.”

School is one of the only places Emily gets to see her friends, as her weekends are almost always booked with golf tournaments.

“I can’t stay after school, Emily said, “even during breaks, I can’t see my friends.”

Like most teenagers, Emily wants to have fun. However, aside from the occasional K-pop concert, there isn’t much “fun” to be had with her schedule, at least not in the traditional sense.

Nonetheless, she manages to find amusement in swift, repetitive swing practice and joy in the sweet, simple pleasure of feeding lab rats.

Sometimes, however, living in the moment isn’t enough. On those days, it helps to imagine her future.

“I just have to remind myself why I’m doing this,” Emily said, “out of love and passion for the game. I know at the end of this, it will all pay off and I will finally be able to prove to myself that for once, I was good enough.”